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Deputy Who Lost Family to Gunman Speaks to Reports in Alabama; Students Gunned Down in Germany; Crimefighting at Your Fingertips; Violence Crossing the Border

Aired March 11, 2009 - 09:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, violence in peaceful places. A school in Germany and a community in rural Alabama, both torn apart by a gunman's bullets. At least 27 people are dead. And the living are asking why.

We have reporters covering both rampages. We will hear from police and witnesses.

It's Wednesday, March 11th, I'm Heidi Collins. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Police say at least nine students are among the victims in Germany. The attack came in Winnenden, Germany. That's just outside of Stuttgart in southwestern Germany. A former student dressed in military gear targeting a couple of classrooms.

CNN's Diana Magnay has been monitoring the situation for us in Berlin.

So, Diana, there was a massive manhunt for the shooter. We know that much. Do police have any idea where he may be at this point?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, we know now that the man, the 17-year-old former student of this school, who carried out this rampage, has been shot after a 3 1/2-hour manhunt. He has been shot dead about 20 kilometers away from the town of Winnenden where this attack took place.

And including him, we now have a death toll from police of 16 people dead. Some of them students, some of them passersby, caught up in the police shootout, which in the end killed the suspect himself, Heidi.

COLLINS: Do they have any idea on a motive as of yet?

MAGNAY: There is no known motive right now. We know that he was a former student at the school. We don't have a name for him yet. We know that he had commandeered a rifle from his own parents who were legally allowed to carry these weapons and that he'd used that.

Gone into the school at about 9:30 a.m. this morning which is when classrooms will be at their fullest, and carried out a horrific school rampage before he then left into the center of town, and then on his -- interestingly, he was supposed to have hijacked -- hijacked a car with a hostage. Taken it out of the town and was then shot by police 20 kilometers away. Heidi?

COLLINS: All right. Well, lots of details coming out, obviously. Coming to us live from Germany today, Diana Magnay. Thanks so much for that, Diana. Appreciate it.

Quickly want to get to a press conference taking place in Alabama right now. Let's go ahead and listen in. We'll have the latest on the incident that happened there.

DEP. JOSH MYERS, GENEVA CO., ALABAMA, POLICE: She's 31 years old. My daughter, Corrine Gracie Myers, she was 1 1/2. Mother, daughter, Ella Kay, she was just born December 1st. She's in the hospital in Pensacola. She's going to have a bullet removed from her leg today.

I just don't understand why anything like this would happen. I don't know what to say. I want to thank all the guys I work with. You all did as good as we could do. You did a great job.

I want to thank everybody's that's called in with support. Just keep -- keep my baby girl in your prayers. I don't know what else to say. Just be praying for my baby girl. I also have a son who was here at the incident. He's OK. So I got a lot to take care of by myself now. And I don't know what else to say.

QUESTION: What about your wife and daughter (INAUDIBLE)?

MYERS: I'm originally from Samson somewhat. I brought -- I met my wife in Kansas, and I brought her here. She's only been living here about a year. She's still new. Her best friends were the neighbors across the street.

This is a very tight-knit neighborhood. All the neighbors around here are family. Every day she was up on the porch with my kids talking with the neighbors just like they were family to us. She hardly knew anybody here to even have enemies. She was a stay-at-home mom. We have three kids. You know, she was a super-mom.

My baby girl, Corrine Gracie, the sweetest thing in the world. I don't even know how to comprehend what's going on. I just...

QUESTION: Did you know the gunman at all?

MYERS: I have no idea who the gunman was. I'd seen him at the lab after he had expired. I don't have any idea. I never heard of him. Never met him. Never seen him before in my life. I know he was of some relation to some of the neighbors, but I don't know anything other than that.

QUESTION: Was your wife and daughter on the porch? Were they inside?

MYERS: My wife and daughter was on the porch, across the street, talking with the neighbors. From talking with some of my other neighbors, the suspect drove up. Fired shots. I don't know what happened from there. I do know that another one of my neighbors, Miss Alina Knowles, did save my baby girl. She ran up on the porch and got my baby girl and took her to safety.

Other than that, all the details is still fuzzy. I'm hearing the same rumors you guys are. They've kept me away from seeing them. Come here yesterday afternoon after it happened, they made me leave. So, I -- it's a tragedy.

QUESTION: You're trained, in part, to respond (INAUDIBLE). And then you find out that you were a victim.

MYERS: It goes to show that, you know, we do get trained to handle things like this, but you can't handle something this magnitude. Geneva County has one -- we have very few law enforcement officers. We're not even equipped to handle two people getting killed in a homicide, let alone 10.

This is something that is never expected. I don't believe any of us ever trained for it. But, however, I'm so proud of the guys I work with because they did better than anybody I've ever seen. Everybody handled everything great.

You know, they're my best friends, and they're my family, and I love them all. And I really want to thank the guys who did everything they could.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE). What is it like to be (INAUDIBLE)?

MYERS: It's tough to even imagine. I cried so much yesterday, I don't have a tear left in me. It still seems like I should be able to walk in the house and my wife should be there and my baby girl should be in there climbing on me. I mean, I'm never in my life going to be able to fully understand it. I mean, just going to have to take it one day at a time. I don't know what to say.

QUESTION: Your daughter (INAUDIBLE) in the hospital. What -- are you heading down to the hospital today or you...

MYERS: My family and my wife's family lives in Kansas. They're flying down to Pensacola today to check on my daughter. They should be there any time at the hospital, Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola.

If everybody would please keep my daughter in your prayers. She -- I don't know if she has a bullet wound to the leg or shrapnel to the leg. They got to do surgery to remove it today. It's close to the femoral artery. As far as I've been told she is stable. So, my family's going to check on my daughter. And then they're going to come over here.

I've got a lot to handle. I don't know how to handle this situation. I need help from my friends and my family and everybody's prayers. You know. I just don't know what to do.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

MYERS: Thank you. Thank you. COLLINS: All right. So we have been listening in. Caught in the middle of a press conference that's taking place in Alabama. Just a terrible, terrible incident that happened there. A killing rampage. Southern Alabama, to be specific.

We were listening to Josh Myers, whose wife had been killed in this incident. And his child, his daughter, had also been shot. He did say that she is in stable condition asking for the people of Alabama and the country, I'm sure, to pray for her.

Again, a bullet wound, in stable condition right now, his daughter.

Moving back just a bit to give you an update and the story behind all of this. 11 people in all are dead. And carnage just littered across two counties there in Alabama. Police say Michael McLendon hunted down family members and opened fire at anyone who got in his way. Today that crime scene spans three separate communities now.

CNN's Sean Callebs has the very latest.


CPL. STEVE JARRETT, ALABAMA STATE POLICE: One of the worst tragedies in recent memories.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The suspected gunman, Michael McLendon of Kinston, Alabama, police say he started his killing spree near the Florida/Alabama border by shooting his mother and her four dogs. He left the home in flames and from there he took his rampage on the road across southeastern Alabama, firing shots as he barreled down state highway 52.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he puts five or six bullet holes in the truck. And then he took off.

CALLEBS: The shooter, also targeting the family that raised him.

JARRETT: Four adults and one child were found shot to death at one residence. One adult was found shot to death at a second residence, and another adult was found shot to death at a third residence.

CALLEBS: The county coroner says the victims included McLendon's grandfather, grandmother, aunt, uncle, and a sheriff's deputy's wife and child who lived across the street. Unsuspecting residents, some sitting on their porches, witnessed it all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard about 10 shots, and I saw someone with a gun, and I turned and went the other way.

CALLEBS: Then two more people shot and killed apparently at random at a gas station and at Samson Pipe and Supply Store. The horrible tale came to an end at the Reliable Metal Products plant. First he fired a 30-round burst, a police chief shot and wounded, but saved by his bullet-proof vest. Then McLendon went inside and apparently turned the gun on himself.

JARRETT: Within minutes shots were heard from within Reliable Metal and law enforcement officers found him dead from what are believed to be self-inflicted gunshots.


COLLINS: All right. We have our correspondent, Sean Callebs, on the line with us right now in Alabama, as we continue to learn more about what happened.

We are looking at pictures of victims.

And Sean, I'm not quite sure if you can see what we are looking at on the screen right now, but I believe these are the family members of Josh Myers who was just at those microphones moments ago.

Now he's a sheriff's deputy, right, Sean? And I know that his wife has been killed and one of his daughters -- I believe they have two children, please correct me if I'm wrong -- is in stable condition. And the other child had also been killed, Sean, is that correct?

CALLEBS: That's correct. And you're right. That's the deputy holding photos of his children, his wife. Really painful to watch this unfold, because here's a professional law enforcement officer who was actually probably responding to the most serious call he'd ever had in his life, and then to come back and find out that his own wife, his own child, were among the dead, you know, we can all put ourselves in that position.

You just can't imagine the agony. He came out very soft-spoken. Talking about what the last 12 or so hours have been like for him. And he -- he and other law enforcement officer actually approached the media just a short while ago, and said he would come out, make a statement and then take questions. And it's just difficult to watch.

You know one can't imagine just how painful all of this is. He said he did not know the suspected gunman, however, he did know members of his family. He says here this area of Samson, Alabama, you know, a very small town, 2,100 people. He said people in this neighborhood they all knew each other, and actually his wife and two children were on the porch across the street.

That they were on the McLendon's relatives' porch when the shooting happened. So just one of those unfortunate tragedies, if she would have been in the house perhaps the thing -- it may have played out differently. But certainly...


CALLEBS: ... just a very difficult time.

COLLINS: Completely random at least at this point as far as this other neighboring family is concerned. Very quickly, Sean, and I'm not sure if you have this information or not, but as we look at those two very young children, any idea which daughter is in stable condition right now that Mr. Myers was pleading for everyone's prayers for?

CALLEBS: It's my -- you know, I -- the simple answer is I'm not 100 percent sure, so I really want to steer clear of that.


CALLEBS: But we do know, you know, that he talked quickly about the fact that a -- the neighbor saw his wounded daughter on the porch, ran up, scooped her off and took her out of harm's way so another perhaps hero in all of this tragedy.

COLLINS: Absolutely.

All right, well, Sean Callebs, let us know what you learn and we'll come back to you at any time when we may need to do that. Sure do appreciate it. Sean Callebs live out of Alabama this morning.

We are following this story all day long right here in the CNN NEWSROOM and as well as You can see interview with the sheriff's deputy, a timeline of the attacks and the latest on this investigation. Once again, you can find all of that at


COLLINS: Something we haven't seen a whole lot of lately, smiling stockbrokers and investors, all because of yesterday's huge Wall Street rally, certainly in comparison, anyway.

And today Asian markets followed with one of their own.

CNN's Christine Romans is part of our money team in New York. You know, I'm seeing a smile on your face a little bit, too. But, of course, everybody needs to, a, keep it in perspective and, b...


COLLINS: ... wants to know does this have legs. I mean could we see it again today? One day at a time, right?

ROMANS: We -- that's absolutely right, Heidi. It is incredibly important to put it in that perspective because we have had relentless sellings for the past three weeks and some folks are saying we needed to put -- you know we needed to put a rally in there. The selling was just so relentless.


ROMANS: I want to show you quickly a chart of what has happened the five other times we've had big rallies this year. Well, the market has gone down the next day, frankly.

COLLINS: Yes. ROMANS: And a couple of those times went down triple digits. So we haven't been able to put back-to-back gains together for five weeks now and those little marks you see on there, those little blue bubbles, those are times we had a big rally and you saw what happened, the market kept going down.

So they call it a bear market rally for a reason. It's still a bear market.


ROMANS: We have futures up, though, so futures are up. So it looks like, at least in the early going, they're going to try to put two and two together.

COLLINS: All right. Well, that sounds good. We would like that, at least two. But the health of the financial sector, obviously, still a major, major concern.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says, a plan is in the works now to help banks recover from these bad mortgages that we've been talking about. A lot of people say, clearly, that's the root of the financial crisis.

What more do we know at this point about that specific story?

ROMANS: Well, you're absolutely right. We're not going to see a market recover, an economy recover and tell you the financial system recover and on "Charlie Rose" Timothy Geithner giving some more details.


ROMANS: Not the whole picture yet but more details on how to get those toxic assets off the banks' books. Listen to what he said, Heidi.


TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: So what this plan will do is to make financing from the government available alongside public and private capital, so that we can get these markets open up again.

The reason why these markets are not moving now is because there's no financing available and no confidence in people's capacity to make judgments about ultimate losses.


ROMANS: So what this is about, Heidi, this is about using taxpayer money for low-interest loans, for private capital. That would be hedge funds, private equity, who knows, big investors, who want to come in and buy those toxic assets and take them completely off the banks' books and then incentives for the banks to sell them.

It's cleaning up the mess, mopping up those toxic assets. We haven't found a way to do this yet, you know, and we're back to -- this was actually suggested by people like -- by Warren Buffett, we're told, last fall.


ROMANS: Now they're back to this idea again. He says in the next couple of weeks they'll have more details on this, what they call the facility, the way to do it, and whether it will work.

But this is critical, it is so critical. It all keeps going back to these assets which are impossible to value, which, you know, get more...

COLLINS: Got to get rid of them.

ROMANS: You got to get rid of them.


ROMANS: And so learning more about that every day and it's a very important part of this whole, whole mess.

COLLINS: All right, we will keep it in focus. Sure do appreciate it.

CNN's Christine Romans, part of our money team.

Now listen to this, Christine, because this is kind of a good story, too. A little coffee shop competing with an international brand. Only one survives. We'll tell you who's still brewing.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And I'm Rob Marciano in the CNN Weather Center. Flooding across parts of the Midwest. Snow in the northeast? And a shuttle set to launch later tonight.

Details coming up when the CNN NEWSROOM with Heidi Collins comes right back.


COLLINS: People in northern and western Illinois dealing with flooding, or getting ready for it. It's been raining a lot over the past couple of days. And the ground already soaked, as you can see. Some of the rivers and streams there have overflowed their banks.

In areas where it hasn't flooded yet, but might, people are trying to get ready by putting sandbags in place.


MARCIANO: Space shuttle, Heidi, set to launch tonight at 9:20.


MARCIANO: The weather should be nice. The launches at night are always a spectacle to see, and if you live within 500 miles of Cape Canaveral, you might be able to see that glow right after it launch at 9:20.

COLLINS: Very cool. All right, we always like that.

One thing that some people probably won't like, though, Rob, are these next stories, especially if they live in New York and like to bowl.

Bowlers there in the state of New York, hoping to strike down a proposed new sales tax. Seventy thousand people have sent comment cards to the state capital in Albany, protesting this tax on bowling. The entertainment tax could also, are you ready for this, Rob?


COLLINS: Be applied to golf, movie tickets and haircuts.

MARCIANO: Come on.

COLLINS: Governor David Paterson proposing the tax as part of his new budget plan. New York's got a projected deficit now of around $14 billion.

MARCIANO: What do they have against bowling?

COLLINS: Or golf or haircuts.

MARCIANO: Or golf?


COLLINS: Movies. I don't know. It's a plan. It's a proposed plan. So we'll keep our eye on it.

MARCIANO: Well, maybe we can come up with other things we can tax other than that, I mean...


MARCIANO: I'm not a big bowler but it -- it's fun once in a while.

COLLINS: You'd rather have them tax, let's be honest, the bowling than the golf.

MARCIANO: That's true.



OK. We'll come back to you later on, Rob. Thank you.

MARCIANO: All right. Sounds good.

COLLINS: A multibillion dollar plan to help rescue the sinking U.S. housing market, is it working? We'll ask a real estate expert. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, Heidi Collins.

COLLINS: On Wall Street the Dow Jones Industrial Average is coming off its biggest gain of the year. A jump of nearly, I'm sure you know this by now, 380 points. So the burning question today as that bell rings, will the rally continue?

Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with a preview of the trading day.

Hi there, Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Heidi. Can you say Dow 7000?

COLLINS: Yes, I can. I hope for even a lot more but, you know.

LISOVICZ: That's right. That would be halfway to 14,000. We got real close yesterday, about 75 points away...


LISOVICZ: ... from that threshold. Stocks set to open higher. They are opening higher. Let's hope that we can do two for two. We have not had back-to-back gains on Wall Street in five weeks. The DOW'S rally yesterday propelled by news that Citigroup operated at a profit in January and February. But there are still plenty of folks calling this a bear trap.


LISOVICZ: Wall Street waits for details on the government's plan for dealing with banks' toxic assets. The Treasury secretary says the plan will be unveiled within weeks. You know, the street's been impatient about that. One component is to provide government financing to private investors who are willing to buy those assets.

We have more job cuts to tell you about. This time from national semiconductor and wood products company Warehouser. But we prefer to look at the upside. AT&T is hiring.


LISOVICZ: AT&T is hiring.

COLLINS: I hear you.

LISOVICZ: The company says it plans to add 3,000 jobs this year. The company is benefiting from increased demand for its wireless broadband and video services. The announcement comes three months after the company said it would cut 12,000 jobs. What we're not cutting is the three major averages. Well, they are modest. Modest gains, Miss Collins. But we're getting very close to 7,000 for the blue chips. The NASDAQ, meanwhile, is up about a third of a percent. And one percent, and the S&P is up 0.50 percent.

Ringing the opening bell, get your motor running. Head out on the highway, Heidi. The founder of Orange County Choppers. The company makes customized choppers, motorcycles, that start at 30 grand, and can easily go to six figures. So this is -- they've got a cult following from the TLC show, "American Chopper," right? I'm sure you watch it all the time?

COLLINS: I've actually seen them traveling on the highway.

LISOVICZ: Yes. I mean, they are -- they are...

COLLINS: I wasn't stalking, I promise. All right.

LISOVICZ: Well, you know, it's manufacturing. They're made here in America.


LISOVICZ: And they make 150 customized motorcycles a year.

COLLINS: It's a great story.

LISOVICZ: And that keeps the company going.

COLLINS: All right. Susan Lisovicz thank you, from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. We'll check back later on. See how those numbers are doing.

Meanwhile, to these stories now in southern Alabama. Police say they still don't know why Michael McLendon went on his killing rampage yesterday. By the time it was over, 11 people were dead, including McLendon himself.

Investigators say the bloodshed began in Kinston when McLendon burned down his mother's house with her still in it. He then traveled to Samson, and killed his aunt, uncle, niece, grandmother and a deputy's wife and infant son who lived across the street. Then he randomly shot people on the street, killing three more. McLendon killed himself when police chased him to a manufacturing plant where he once worked.

Then to Germany, a gunman who opened fire inside a school there this morning is now also dead. He was shot by police after a 3 1/2- hour manhunt. Here's what we know what happened this morning in Winnenden, Germany, just outside Stuttgart.

The gunman dressed in military gear, opened fire inside the school. Police say he killed nine students and three teachers. Another person was killed outside the school. The gunman is a 17- year-old former student. Officials say he left the school two years ago. Police say he was killed outside a supermarket about 12 miles from the school. Two other people were killed during the shootout. Two police officers seriously injured.

We'll keep you updated on both those stories. No unnecessary spending. During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to force Congress to curb its pork-barrel spending ways. In about two hours, President Obama takes a step to fulfill that promise. He's expected to announce new rules on earmarks. Those costly pet projects that lawmakers stuff into a lot of spending bills that we see get through. The announcement comes just one day after a controversial $410 billion spending bill passed the Senate loaded with pet projects.

Well, it's been one week now since President Obama unveiled his plan, which he says could help up to 9 million homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Real estate expert, Ilyce Glink has her finger on the pulse of that troubled housing market, and joins us now to talk more about it.

All right. So it's a good question. I mean, it's been a week. Some people would say it's not very long. Other people would say, you know, I've been waiting. It's been a week. And I want to know when it's going to funnel down to me. You say that some of this has already started to happen.

ILYCE GLINK, REAL ESTATE EXPERT: We are starting to get word that the big banks and lenders are starting to pass information down about the mortgage bill. The homeowner stability and affordability plan. What they're going to be doing, they're starting to pass down information to the lenders on the local level, and it's really all about what's going on locally in your neighborhood.

COLLINS: Yes, exactly. So, you write this column -- you're a syndicated columnist.

GLINK: Right.

COLLINS: You also do a radio show here in Atlanta talking to people, hearing what they had to say. I'm sure you're in touch with your readers as well. What are their main concerns right now? Again, one week into the unveiling of this plan?

GLINK: The big question is, who's going to qualify for this. So, the new plan allows people whose home equity has evaporated. So, if your debt-to-income ratio -- excuse me, your loan-to-value ratio of your house, how much you owe versus how much it's actually worth is 105 percent.

So in other words, if your house is now worth $100,000, your loan is $105,000, you would qualify to refinance under the new plan.

COLLINS: OK, is it enough?

GLINK: I don't know. It's a little bit concerning, because for a lot of people, they've lost 30 percent or 40 percent of the value of their house.

COLLINS: Yes. GLINK: They're under water by more than that. They won't be helped. Unless you're in a high-cost area, you're limited to $417,000, so people with jumbo loans won't be helped.


GLINK: And if you've missed a payment, even one payment or you are late on a payment, you may not be able to qualify as well. So, there's a lot of people out there that this won't help.

I'm not quite sure we're going to get to four million or five million people that will be helped.

COLLINS: OK. Well, it's very interesting and hard to get those numbers obviously at this point. I mean, nobody can do that. But it also doesn't touch on, not to be completely redundant, but people who have already been foreclosed on. What about them?

GLINK: They will get absolutely no help. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have sort of stated rule. If you've gone into foreclosure, your house has been foreclosed on, it's going to be five years before they will buy a loan that has your name on it.

If you've done a short sale where you've sold your home for less than the value of the mortgage, you're going to need two years until you can buy a house again.


GLINK: That's millions more people who won't be helped by this particular plan.

COLLINS: All right. You know, I have an interesting question for you, because I know that you've written these two books. One of them says like I think it's "The 100 Questions that Every Home Buyer Should Be Asking," and then another one "100 Questions that Every Home Seller Should Be Asking."

Since you've written those books, has all of that information and your advice completely changed. Or does any of it stay consistent?

GLINK: I would tell you that for most people, buying a house if you've got good credit as 70 percent or 75 percent of Americans do, there's plenty of credit available out there.

COLLINS: Is it really that much? Really?


COLLINS: Tell me something about that.

GLINK: Most of us -- most people have 740 scores or above.


GLINK: So 25... COLLINS: 800 being perfect.

GLINK: 850 being...


COLLINS: 850, that's right.

GLINK: ... the ideal number. So for most people who are in that category, the process of buying and selling home hasn't change. You really need to put together a home-buying team. You need to find out how much you can afford to spend.

COLLINS: You need to put together a loan team to get a hold of the loan.

GLINK: And you need to know exactly what your budget is going to be. The good news, though, is when you go out, home prices are the most affordable that they've been relative to income in years. So, you're really going to be able to buy more house for your money. It's good.

COLLINS: If you don't have anything to sell.

GLINK: If you don't have anything to sell.

COLLINS: That's right.

GLINK: First-time buyers are the key to this market right now.

COLLINS: All right. Well, it's a pleasure. Ilyce, thank you. We like having you here on set with us. Sure do appreciate it.

All right. Still ahead in our next hour. I want to let you know that we are talking about this today -- what do you think of the media's coverage of the economy?

Go ahead and e-mail us, or go to Facebook to share your comments. We've been hearing a lot about this. We're covering it too much. We're depressing people. Or we're not covering it enough. So, Josh Levs is going to be joining me in just a few minutes. We're going to hear some of your comments right here.

Also a new way to get help during an emergency, starts today in Tennessee, and it's right at your fingertips


COLLINS: It's a new tool for fighting crime. And if you live in Tennessee, it's right at your fingertips. Police are allowing tipsters to send information anonymously by text message. And they are making sure high school students are the first to know.

So joining us now is Franklin, Tennessee, Deputy Police Chief David Rahinski.

Thanks for being with us.


COLLINS: Tell us quickly how this works.

RAHINSKI: It's a Web-based program. Anyone can tip messages to tip 411 by using the agency's keyword and then the message itself.

COLLINS: OK. So what happens is, I don't know, maybe they are passing by a locker at school. We're starting this at the high school level right?


COLLINS: They see something suspicious, I'm not sure we're talking about drugs or weapons, and then they text immediately to that number, correct?

RAHINSKI: They do. We're hoping that the less personal method of communication will encourage students in particular to be more apt to contact law enforcement. We saw it as a great avenue to make ourselves available to that segment of the community that's more comfortable texting than calling. As a father of three, including two teenagers...


RAHINSKI: ...I recognize just how much time they spend texting. And we thought that this would be a great opportunity to reach out to that segment of our community.

COLLINS: OK. What specifically is the issue in your community, though? I mean, are we talking about drugs and weapons at school being something that you're concerned about there?

RAHINSKI: We're fortunate. Franklin is one of the safest communities in the state. But we certainly don't want to rest on our laurels. This is an avenue for us to interact well with the community. And if we can prevent one tragic instance, anything from recovering a gun from a locker or preventing a fight after school...

COLLINS: Got it.

RAHINSKI: ...we want to get that information.

COLLINS: OK. So this is also anonymous. How does that help with all of this? You don't want to scare anybody away if they are -- I mean, some of them will call it tattletaling.

RAHINSKI: It's completely anonymous. The whole system is predicated on that anonymity. And we'll want the users of the system to realize that their identity is, in fact, protected.

COLLINS: Is it free? RAHINSKI: It is free to the user. It's a very minimal cost for the department, and in our case that cost is actually being offset. We're using funds that were seized during drug seizures to pay for it.

COLLINS: OK, understood. Any concern, deputy chief, about false alarms or pranks here since it is anonymous?

RAHINSKI: We do have some concerns, but we recognize any means of communication can be abused. We're convinced that the benefits of the program will certainly offset -- offset any drawbacks.

COLLINS: All right. Well, we'll keep our eye on it alongside you and see how it goes for you. Sure do appreciate your time, Deputy Chief David Rahinski. Thanks again.

RAHINSKI: Thank you, Ma'am.

COLLINS: Coming to us from Tennessee today.

A new resource to help you find a job. Our Josh Levs joins us now with that.

OK, great. What is it?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know, it's impressive, huh, Heidi? But this is what we call a tease. Here's what we got. Where to go to find a job, which industries have opportunities in your region, and the number one piece of advice from experts. You can get all that in one place.


COLLINS: The passing of a legend, and you can blame the bad economy in part. Besides being popular with locals, Boston's Bull & Finch Pub has drawn in tourists as the model for the TV show, "Cheers." Now longtime bartender Eddie Doyle seen by many as the real life Sam Malone is being laid off. He may have not known everybody's name, but there was a time when he knew their drinks.


EDDIE DOYLE, TENDED BAR FOR 35 YEARS: I'd say, here comes Beal with a water and a twist.


COLLINS: Eddie Doyle plans to write a book about the pub's regulars who he calls more eccentric than the ones on the show.

A job fair becomes a fire hazard in Ohio. Hundreds of desperate job hunters were turned away when they arrived at a job fair yesterday. The event got so jam-packed, organizers refused to let any more applicants unless they were pre-registered. Some businesses had jobs to fill on the spot. Officials closed the hotel's parking lot because it was too full. Police say it also slowed traffic for miles.

There are a lot more job fairs all over the country. And CNN can help you find them. Our Josh Levs has an interactive map for you.

Hey there, Josh.

LEVS: Hey there to you. And as you can see in the story you were just telling, obviously, anywhere you're going to see one of these fairs. You're going to see people from all over the country pouring in to try to get in. Let's zoom in on the board. I want to show you something really cool. is brand new. It brings you the whole series of things, including this, which is the interactive map, Heidi, we're just referring to, all but job fairs.

I'm actually going to use the cursor instead of my fingers so we can go to any state. Check this out. Zoom in on any one of these. It will give you the date. So, for example, let's say, oh, I'm going to be in Raleigh or I might be willing to travel to Raleigh, this one gives you some information right here or tells you when you need to check back. Some of them already have the dates planned with specific locations, what time to get there, and you can imagine, Heidi, a lot of people plan on getting there the night before in many cases.

A couple more features I want to point out to you about How to answer ten tough interview questions. One of the most important things you can know obviously, and this is the number one piece of advice, Heidi, that experts are giving. To find a job, ignore doom-and-gloom news. So go in there with the right attitude, they're saying.

COLLINS: All right. Yes. So this is how we stay positive, huh?

LEVS: Yes.

COLLINS: What about next hour? We're asking this question of our viewers, right?

LEVS: Exactly. Yes, we have a really interesting question going. Let's zoom back in on the board. I'll show you a couple of things. First of all, oh, there it is. That's the full screen.

Your thoughts on the media's coverage of the economy. That's what we're talking to you about today. We want to know, not just CNN, but in general in the media, what are you getting or not getting that might help you? It's at my Facebook page, Josh Levs CNN, or email us there,

You can see, Heidi, it's up right here. We're already getting a bunch of responses on Facebook, and we were just talking about positive news.

While you're there, check out this, feeling more or less confident about the economy? It's another discussion we were having recently, and I got to tell you, Heidi, a lot of people are saying what Kevin is saying, "I'm more confident about it now."

Maybe while you're at the page, you can find some inspiration to feel a little bit better, and then you can have the optimism when it's time for your job interview. COLLINS: Love that. All right. Josh Levs, thank you.

LEVS: Thanks, Heidi.

COLLINS: Here's something you don't hear about very often. A small business outlasting a corporate competitor, a big one, too. It's happened in Stillwater, Minnesota. KARE11 reporter Jeffrey DeMars is there.


JEFFREY DEMARS, KARE11 CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Starbucks sign and a note on the door to direct people to a nearby Starbucks are the only remnants that the big-bucks coffee shop was even here for the past ten years.

MEGAN KEISTER, THE DAILY GRIND: Never. Never. Never, never, never.

DEMARS: Its closing still has Megan Keister baffled.

KEISTER: I mean, of all places, that was kind of -- I thought one of their signatures, was the downtown Stillwater location.

DEMARS: It was a great building, a corner lot, a nice patio, but after a ten-year lease, Starbucks opted not to renew.

KEISTER: Did you want with cream?

DEMARS: Keister co-owns The Daily Grind coffee shop directly across the street. She purchased it three years ago, and knew full well she would have her work cut out for her.

KEISTER: You really got to up your game.

DEMARS: She doesn't give the Grind credit for ousting the coffee giant, but she does say they stay competitive over the years. Starbucks served its last cup in downtown Stillwater February 27th. Since then, The Grind has seen quite an increase in sales. Just this past weekend, sales doubled compared to this time last year.

KEISTER: We had an awesome following. And those people are by far, I can't even thank them enough for how much they supported us, especially right when I bought the place.

DEMARS: It's been a three-year Grind hard work, dedication and sometimes 80-hour work weeks which seems to have paid off, except for one thing.

KEISTER: If the economy was a lot better, it would have been a little bit more joyful in the whole process of losing them. But those employees were over there, were really, really nice people.

DEMARS: Even the nicest of people can lose out when the giant falls. Jeffrey DeMars, KARE 11 News.


COLLINS: Drug violence, crossing the border from Mexico. Weapons going from the U.S. Is the U.S. doing enough to stop it all?



COLLINS: Changes in the U.S. policy towards Cuba are in the spending bill that just passed in the Senate right now. Cuban Americans are allowed to travel back to Cuba to visit relatives only once every three years. They're also allowed to stay in Cuba for two weeks. The new rule says they can go back once a year and stay as long as they'd like. There is also a loosening of rules on food and medicine imports into Cuba, but other trade restrictions will stay in place.

Drug violence keeps skyrocketing in Mexico, and many people say corruption is running deeper. According to reports, more than 100,000 soldiers from the Mexican army have gone AWOL, many of them deserting the army to work for the drug cartel. They say the reason is simple -- economics. Cartel pay much better, leaving the army to work for the cartels. It helps them make a better living using the skills they already learned in the military.

So that's part of the struggle in Mexico. Across the border in the U.S., people are getting more worried about drug-fueled violence coming to their community. And top border officials are in the hot seat talking to Congress. Our Jeanne Meserve reports.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Assassinations, beheadings, kidnappings. The grisly trademarks of Mexico's drug cartels. Is the U.S. doing enough to stop the violence and drugs from coming north to the U.S.? In a hearing with top border officials, a member of Congress made his opinion very clear.

REP. HAL ROGERS (R), KENTUCKY: I think we're conveniently hiding our head in the sands of Cancun beach, and we're not seeing what the real problem is. And it's a real problem for the United States of America. Every major city in this country has legs of the Mexican drug cartel. Do they not? Anyone want to dispute that? Didn't think so. And yet, I do not see the U.S. taking this thing as seriously as they need to take it.

MESERVE: But Rogers wasn't the only member of Congress finding fault. Others wanted to know what officials are doing to stop the flow of money and guns southward from the U.S. into Mexico.

REP. SAM FARR (D), CALIFORNIA: I think a lot of people, at least in my state, or my district, would argue those guns killed a hell of a lot more people than marijuana that was smuggled into this country.

MESERVE: And what if the violence in Mexico gets so bad it sparks a mass exodus? What then members asked? REP. JOHN CARTER (R), TEXAS: Do we have any contingency plan to deal with the possible reality that Mexico blows up and people start walking across the border saying I want to be saved from this violence down here by the millions.

JAYSON AHERN, U.S. CUSTOMS & BORDER: We've actually put those plans in place and they are very detailed.

MESERVE (on camera): U.S. officials insist, they do understand the threat the drug cartels posed about Mexico and the United States. They say agencies are working with one another, and with the Mexican government to stem the violence. But clearly, they have a lot of work left to do.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.