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American Morning

Mayoral Candidate Discusses Firefight; Encouraging News from Injured NFL Player; China Unhappy Over U.S. Honoring Dalai Lama

Aired October 17, 2007 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: So MRSA, is this something that anybody can catch, or should we all be concerned about it, and how do you protect yourself from it?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think this is one of the things that people need to be thinking about, but remember, for the most part, it is still a relatively rare thing, a, to get it and, b, certainly to get very sick or die from it. But obviously this is something that has grown in numbers over the last several years.

First of all, MRSA basically means methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. Staphylococcus aureus is name you don't need to remember, but it's a bacteria, and it's present everywhere. It's present on your skin right now, Kiran. But when it becomes resistant to antibiotics, that's when it becomes a problem, and that's where the MRSA name comes from.

This new study that you just referenced, a look at nine different communities, trying to figure out just how big a problem is this, and who's most likely to get it. You can take a look at the numbers there and the death rate. You can see how high that death rate is with respect to infections, so it's very high, actually higher than the number of people who died from HIV/AIDS that same year that study was done as well.

This used to be a hospital thing, just solely, Kiran. It used to be something found in hospitals, because that's where sick people were found and that's where a lot of antibiotics are being used.

Now it's making its way out into the community, as you heard with this particular football player. We've had other cases as well, so you're starting to see a lot more in the community as this particular organism becomes more aggressive and more difficult to treat.

CHETRY: Is this associated with not being cleanly enough. We showed pictures of the students who wanted to walk their superintendent through. I mean, can you clean enough that this is not a threat?

GUPTA: That is sort of one of the primary ways to try and take care of this, both in the hospitals and in the community. This is something that can be spread by touch. Again, very rare, but that can happen, so cleanliness, just simple things like washing your hands, asking hospital attendants to wash their hands, making sure equipment is sterilized obviously before it touches you, and catheters, for example, also are clean. These important things on hospitals, but also it's associated with people in close quarters and in situations that may not be the most hygienic. So these things can make a difference. And I think most infectious disease doctors would say that that's an adequate first step.

I should point out, Kiran, that there are antibiotics that can work against MRSA, but they are next-generation antibiotics, and you're seeing a bacteria sort of evolving and becoming more difficult to treat.

CHETRY: Now is this the same as the flesh-eating bacteria that we've talked about before?

GUPTA: Yes, it's sort of given that name colloquially. It's also called MRSA. Some people call it that, just sort of putting the letters together. It's called that flesh-eating bacteria, because sometimes it will start off as what might look like a little sore on your skin or a little spider bite on your skin and it'll just start to grow, seemingly eating the flesh. That's where the name came from.

Where it becomes a problem, is when it gets not only in the skin, but also in the many organs in your body, your kidneys, liver, your lungs, such as happened in this young football player. That's when people can get very sick or even die from it.

CHETRY: Yes, that is so scary to think about. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you.


CHETRY: Search crews in West Virginia have been working through the night, combing a national forest, hoping to find a missing autistic hiker. He's 18-year-old Jacob Allen, wandered off Sunday while hiking with his parents. Jacobs -- there's a picture of him right now. Jacob's brother and sister, Micah and Brittany Allen join us now. Along with Chris Stadelman. He is the spokesperson for the search effort there in Cannane (ph) Valley, West Virginia this morning. Thanks for being with us, all of you.

Chris, let's updated on the search now. There were searchers in the woods all night long. They're expected to go out in a few hours. Have they been able to narrow down where they think Jacob might have gotten separated from his parents, where he might be?

CHRIS STADELMAN, SPOKESMAN FOR SEARCH EFFORT: They're still working with a primary search of about looking 10 square miles, that's focused on the Boar's Nest Trail where he was last seen. Crews have already started back out this morning. We're actually sitting in the staging area where we're having volunteers come in and help. They're being led by professional crews, a professional on each crew, going out starting first thing this morning, and we hope to have a couple hundred people out again.

CHETRY: And I also understand, Chris, that you had searchers -- the dogs were given a pillow case to sniff. How helpful can that be when dogs can pick up the scent?

STADELMAN: That's one of our best options at this point, and we were hopeful that picking up a scent last night. When the air started moving around a little bit more, that's an advantage for the dogs.

So yes, we have a real combination of resources, in addition to people who are well trained, volunteers who are going out and working hard. Air-support helicopters are flying over the area, plus lots of search-and-rescue dogs.

CHETRY: Brittany, let met ask you a little bit about your brother, Jacob. He's been described as essentially nonverbal. Tell us what you think -- how you think he's doing out there and what his chances are for rescuers to be able to find him.

BRITTANY ALLEN, SISTER OF MISSING AUTISTIC HIKER: I'm sure he's very afraid, and scared, and cold, and of course hungry. You know, that is our biggest concern, that when someone calls for him, he can't say I'm here, help me. That is our biggest concern with him, not being able to respond I'm sure if he does see someone I'm sure we would go to them and, you know, be willing to go with them. I'm sure of that. And we just hope that we can visually see him. Jacob works very visually. Usually, you know, when we do call for him he comes to us, and we often use pictures to communicate with him rather than verbal use. And that is our biggest concern trying to find him. And we just really want to find him out there. That's what we hope to do today.

CHETRY: Absolutely. And, Micah, your brother loved to hike. He enjoyed doing it. Do you think that he is capable, and that he is able to sort of make his way out to searchers if they start calling his name?

MICAH ALLEN, BROTHER OF MISSING AUTISTIC HIKER: I believe so, like probably the first day or two, but by now he's probably very tired and weak, so he's probably laying down or sitting down somewhere, but yes, he's very fit. He's pretty skinny, but he's healthy, and he's hiked a lot before and can he make his own path. He just tries to find the easiest way out and down, but by today, I don't know if he's going to be able to do much.

CHETRY: All right, yes, because he went missing Sunday. I know you guys are all doing the best that you can, Chris, in that search effort. We wish you the best, and we hope that they are able to make progress today and find Jacob. I want to thank all of you for joining us. Micah, Brittany Allen, as well as Chris Stadelman. Thanks.




ROBERTS: And caught on tape -- a driver rescued in the nick of time. We'll meet the hero cop who saved her, next on AMERICAN MORNING. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


ROBERTS: Caught on tape -- a driver owes her life to a quick- thinking police officer. Take a look at this. It's dash-cam video from South Carolina. A car broken down on the tracks, an Amtrak train bearing down on her. You can hear the whistle becoming increasingly urgent. Police officer kept his cool and successfully persuaded the driver to abandon her car just in the nick of time. Watch this. Bam! The train hits the car at about 70 miles an hour.

Officer Marcus O'Shields joins us now live from the scene of the accident in Greer, South Carolina.

Officer O'Shields, thanks very much for being with us. Good work yesterday. How did you manage to come up upon this woman in the first place?

Thank you.

MARCUS O'SHIELDS, GREER S.C. POLICE DEPT.: Well, I was actually == I had pulled over and was on the phone. I pulled over and parked on the side of the road, where it's actually a private drive, and sitting there, I had my lights off, and this vehicle pulled up, stopped at the stop sign for a moment, and then actually turned onto the tracks. So I was already there at the scene.

ROBERTS: And as soon as she turned on to the tracks her car got stuck there?

O'SHIELDS: Yes, I mean, it was stuck on the rails. It's a good, you know, four-inch drop off the pavement, and her vehicle was actually sitting on the rail itself.


O'SHIELDS: And her tires were spinning, so she couldn't move her vehicle.

ROBERTS: So you went up to her car. And here's another picture of it being hit by that Amtrak train as we're asking about this. It's just amazing video to watch. Whamo! You tried to talk her out of the car, and it took you some time, though, didn't it?

O'SHIELDS: Well, when I first went up, we didn't realize there was a train coming at the time. I was actually speaking -- she was on the telephone, actually, when I first got up to the vehicle, and I guess speaking with a friend. She was trying to locate a house. She was actually out of town and lost, and so I spoke to her briefly, and then I was notifying my dispatcher we need to go ahead and notify the railroad we had a vehicle on the tracks, and then another officer heard the transmission.

ROBERTS: And then you heard the whistle?

O'SHIELDS: Well, another officer heard that transmission on my radio and advised there was a train already coming.

ROBERTS: Oh, my goodness.

O'SHIELDS: And about the same time is when I heard the whistle, and I started coaxing the driver like telling her we need to get out of the vehicle, we need to get off the tracks. There's a train coming. We don't have time.

ROBERTS: Did you have an idea the train had left the station and built up ahead of steam to the point of 70 miles an hour?

O'SHIELDS: Well, I'm pretty familiar with the train traffic through town. We have a lot of late night train traffic. I work the 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. shift, so I'm pretty familiar with the train traffic, and I knew it was going to be Amtrak because it usually comes through about the same time every night, and I know that they do a good 70 miles an hour through town.

ROBERTS: Betsy Duval is the woman's name. You can hear her screaming on the audio of your dash-cam video there. What was her reaction in person when the train came through and destroyed her car?

O'SHIELDS: At first, I don't think she realized what type of danger she was actually in, until the train actually struck her vehicle, and I think that's when it just hit her and, you know, that's when the scream, she let out the scream, and then afterwards, she just thanked me and thanked me for saving her life. I think she realized what kind of danger she was in if she would have stayed in her vehicle.

ROBERTS: According to some reports I've read, the police there in South Carolina, saying that cell phone usage may have contributed to this crash. Do you believe that?

O'SHIELDS: It possibly could. Also the fact that she wasn't familiar with the area, she was lost, and I believe she actually thought she was at an intersection and was making a left.

ROBERTS: My goodness.

O'SHIELDS: And that's when she drove onto the track.

ROBERTS: Well, Officer O'Shields, thanks very much for joining us this morning. Good work that talked her out of the car.

O'SHIELDS: Thank you.

ROBERTS: I mean, when you think of what could have happened when she stayed inside. Thanks for being with us this morning. It's good to talk to you.

O'SHIELDS: It'd have been tragic.

ROBERTS: Yes, it absolutely would have.

O'SHIELDS: Thank you. ROBERTS: So, listen, we want to know what you think about this? Because the police say that cell phone use could have contributed to this accident. Should you be banned from using your cell phone while driving? Cast your vote at Right now, 85 percent of you say yes, you should be banned from using a cell phone; 15 percent of people say no. We'll continue to tally the votes throughout the morning.

CHETRY: Yes, it's interesting, a lot of states are making those laws where you have to have a, you know, a hands-free device.

But the texting and the BlackBerrying, I mean, you have to do more, you have to use a hand off the steering wheel to be able to do that.

ROBERTS: Guilty.

CHETRY: Dangerous. You better stop it.


Well, a contraception controversy topping your Quick Hits now. King Middle School in Maine might start making birth-control pills available to students in sixth to eighth grade. It would need to get permission to be treated at the high school center by their parents, but they can keep private the treatment they receive. The school has been giving away free condoms since it opened back in 2000.

Well, if you're a homeowner, listen up. The Treasury secretary says that we haven't hit rock bottom in the housing crisis. Our personal financed editor Gerri Willis is going to tell us what the government is doing, if anything, that may help you after the break.

Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a bunch of shots just been fired here. There was a black guy running around and somebody shooting the hell out of him.


CHETRY: A stop at a convenience store turns into the OK Corral, involving an off-duty cop who's running for mayor. Who fired first? Are multiple shots justified? The officer joins us live in the studio ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Twenty-four minutes after the hour. Online shoppers can breathe a sigh of relief this morning. The Internet could stay tax free until at least 2011. Yesterday the House voted to ban state and local taxes on the Web. Now the measure moves on to the Senate.

CHETRY: Well, if you're a home owner, thinking of becoming one, you've probably been keeping an eye on the slumping housing market news.

Is there any relief in sight? And can the government -- should the government help?

CNN's personal finance editor Gerri Willis joins us now with more.

Hi, Gerri. Good morning.


Yes, interesting stuff yesterday. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has really become the point man for the administration on this whole mortgage broker problem. And in fact he spoke yesterday at Georgetown University, talking about what the stakes might be if this problem is not solved.


HENRY PAULSON, TREASURY SECY.: Despite strong economic fundamentals, the housing decline is still unfolding, and I view it as a most significant current risk to our economy. The longer housing prices remain stagnant or fall, the greater the penalty to our future economic growth.


WILLIS: All right, so you heard it. We could be flirting with a recession because of this problem. What does Paulson want to do? Well, he wants to license, regulate mortgage brokers much more seriously than in the past. It's been a state-by-state game in the past. He wants to make it a national one, possibly. He also wants to make sure that mortgage documents are readable. Right now if you look at one of them, they're very hard to understand. And finally he's talking about taking that patchwork of regulation for the mortgage industry, state laws, federal laws, lots of agencies involved in the regulation of mortgage professionals and the industry, making that more understandable, making it simpler.

And of course what's interesting is what's not being talked about, some of the suggestions out of Congress coming up, for example, that possibly Wall Street might have some responsibility in this.

No, says Paulson, not at all, and he's very clear to say, hey, there's going to be no government bailout here. We are not spending money on this. Why? Because if we do, Wall Street will just do it all over again.

ROBERTS: You've been looking into this a lot, particularly on your program of "OPEN HOUSE." You've got a real good sense of this. So do you believe that this will have an impact?

WILLIS: Well, it can have an impact. But you've got to remember, the programs that are in place right now and that have been put in place in the last couple of months are pretty small. We're still waiting for something to come through. Congress has done nothing. And since they began talking about the issue, way back in February, almost a million people have gone into foreclosure. I mean, somebody's got to do something soon.

CHETRY: I just think, you know, people who are getting loans who clearly couldn't afford to pay it, and then throwing in the APR and people seeing this jump. I mean, you showed us one time how your monthly payment could jump by a grand based on your interest rate going up.

WILLIS: Yes, you see the payments double. People can't handle it, and of course the lenders out there, they understood what could happen.

ROBERTS: Right. Well, typically Congress waits until things are at crisis state, then they jump in.

WILLIS: Right there, yes.

ROBERTS: You're going to have more on this on OPEN HOUSE this weekend, I take it, right?

WILLIS: That's right. We will talk more about this, and of course we're going to talk about how to save money by going green. We're going to have lots of great tips on that.

ROBERTS: Saturday 9:30 Eastern Time, Saturday and Sunday at 3:30 in the afternoon as well. Gerri Willis, as always, thanks.

CHETRY: We'll be watching.

WILLIS: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Story coming up in our next half hour here that you just can't miss. A seemingly minor little bump at the counter of a convenience store apparently triggers a wild shooting, all of it caught on tape.

CHETRY: That's right. Accusations are flying back and forth as well. The shooter was an off-duty police officer, a mayoral candidate. He says he was fired on first. But was the shooting justified. We're going to find out. We're talking to the officer himself. He's going to tell us what really happened that day, coming up. Also the headlines, when AMERICAN MORNING returns.


CHETRY: Wow. A beautiful shot today of the Ben Franklin Bridge coming to us from WPBI, our affiliate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Wow, it's like about -- almost 90-some percent humidity out there. Cloudy morning.

ROBERTS: Certainly looks like it. Doesn't it?

CHETRY: But it's going to be a nice one. Fifty-six degrees right now. Shaping up to be 79 degrees, so a nice warm October day for the folks in Philly. ROBERTS: Just no end of summertime temperatures, is there?

CHETRY: Yes. Well, I felt like last week we were getting a little cooler. Now we're warming up again.

ROBERTS: Just for the weekend but back.

CHETRY: This is the place to be, according to Rob Marciano. The rest of the country has some troubles.

ROBERTS: Yes. Absolutely.

CHETRY: Thanks for being with us again, by the way. It is Wednesday. It's October 17. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROBERTS: Good morning to you, I'm John Roberts.

New this morning, Confirmation hearings begin in a few hours for Michael Mukasey, the president's choice for attorney general. Mukasey will apparently try to convince the Senate Judiciary Committee that he'll stand up to the president and balance national security needs with civil rights. That's according to the Associated Press, which got an advanced copy of his opening remarks.

There can be a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. That's according to Colin Powell. The former secretary of state says Iran seems determined to have a nuclear program and perhaps nuclear weapons, but he believes the crisis can be handled diplomatically.

Russian President Vladimir Putin left has Iran after meeting with that country's president and supreme leader. He went there despite reports of an assassination plot against him. Russia is building Iran's first nuclear plant. President Putin said there is no proof that Iran is trying to build an atomic bomb.

The 12-year-old sister of one of the Ft. Dix 6 says she was attacked in school. Her brother goes on trial in January for allegedly plotting to kill troops at Ft. Dix. An Islamic civil rights group says the teenage boy punched the girl, choked her and called her a terrorist -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, this morning we're hearing from people who knew Chester Stiles. He's the man arrested Monday night, accused of videotaping a sex assault on a 3-year-old girl. He's due in court today.

"Headline News'" Nancy Grace spoke exclusively last night with Stiles's ex-girlfriend, who said she's the one who contacted police when that tape surfaced last month.


ELAINE THOMAS, CHESTER STILES'S FORMER GIRLFRIEND: My roommate came in and confirmed that I was not insane, and that it was definitely him, and I felt very physically ill. I was hyperventilating a little bit. And -- and after a few minutes of calming myself down and my roommate saying, "Elaine, what are you going to do? What are you going to do?"

And I said, "Well, I need turn him in."

How could I not tell them who that man was? That little girl suffered unimaginable things, and I knew for a fact it was him.


CHETRY: Stiles' alleged victim now 7 years old, living with her mother, said to be happy and healthy with no recollection of the incident. Chester Stiles, meanwhile, facing 21 felony counts.

We're also hearing from the family of another suspected pedophile, 32-year-old Christopher Neil, a Canadian. International police were able to unswirl his fuzzy swirled image from the Internet and identify him in photos where he was abusing children. Interpol has tracked him to Thailand. Neil's brother is now appealing to him to surrender.


MATTHEW NEIL, CHRISTOPHER NEIL'S BROTHER: Since learning of the allegations, we're absolutely devastated. A range of emotions is from anger, shock, devastation.

Chris, turn yourself in. Get, you know -- get back into Canada. This is where you should be to answer these allegations.


CHETRY: Thai police looking for Neil. They're actually sending alerts to Thailand's border checkpoints to be on the lookout for him, as well.

FaceBook, the popular social networking site, launching new safety procedures after investigation by New York's attorney general. There will now be safety disclosures for parents, and a more efficient complaint process to report unsolicited sexual advances and inappropriate content on the site. FaceBook has agreed to be reviewed by an independent examiner for two years.

A 17-year-old high school senior is dead. Apparently died of exposure to a drug-resistant super bug that federal officials are now calling a major public health problem.

His school, as well as 21 others in the district in Virginia, are closed today for cleaning. Schools and gyms across the country are on alert, as well, as health officials warn that potentially deadly strains of this super bug are infecting as many as 90,000 Americans a year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRYANT VINCENT, HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: Football and wrestling are your two main sports that are, you know, susceptible to staph infections. And that's just because the way the sport is played with the equipment and the practices and the sweating, and you know, going back into the locker room.


O'BRIEN: Doctors say that many of the staph infections are being spread in gyms, where athletes can suffer cuts or share sports equipment.

A search right now for an 18-year-old with autism lost in the woods of West Virginia since Sunday. Jacob Allen wandered off on Sunday while hiking with his parents.

The big concern is that Jacob is nonverbal. That means that he can't call out to rescuers.

We talked with his family earlier on AMERICAN MORNING.


BRITTANY ALLEN, SISTER OF MISSING AUTISTIC HIKER: I'm certainly, you know, worried for him. He's scared and cold and, of course, hungry. You know, that is our biggest concern that he -- you know, if someone calls for him he can't say, you know, "I'm here, you know, help me." That is our biggest concern with him, not being able to respond. I'm sure -- if he does see someone, I'm sure he would go to them and, you know, be willing to go with them. I'm sure of that.


ROBERTS: Searchers are concentrating on a ten-mile area where dogs may have picked up Jacob's scent.

And high drama in Atlanta overnight. A man suspended 300 feet high on the tip of a crane. It took the police hours to talk him down. The standoff shut Peachtree Road, a major artery through the city. He was reportedly depressed and was taken to a hospital for mental evaluation.

Caught on tape, a man fighting for his life with an armed robbery in a North Carolina KFC. The store manager had a rifle pointed at his head. The gunman pulled the trigger, but the gun misfired. The manager then grabbed the gun and tried to pry it away from the thief, knowing all along what could have happened if he had lost the battle.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as I heard that click, I figured that's it. He's going to shoot me, even if I give him the money, so I fought back. I wanted to go home to my wife and kids, and one way or the other I just was not going to let go of that gun.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: The two wrestled in the kitchen. The manager eventually managed to work the gunman all the way to the entrance, where he then bolted out the door and ran off. The victim suffered injuries from repeated blows to his head -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, there's some more dramatic images that were caught on tape this morning. This is a CNN exclusive. It happened at a convenience store in South Carolina.

Officer Omar Brown, off duty at the time and also a candidate for mayor of Charleston, reached around to another man to grab some items off the counter. What happened next is really unbelievable, except that it was caught on tape.

The man went out to his car and, Brown, says came after him with a gun. There are newly released 911 calls that also capture what one witness saw. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a bunch of shots just been fired here. There was a black guy running around. And somebody's shooting the hell out of him! Holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I thought he was going to shoot me. I was coming by in this truck.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many gun shots did you hear?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many shots? At least seven or eight.


CHETRY: Well, joining us now to share his story, and you'll see this only on CNN, is Omar Brown. Welcome.


CHETRY: You were shot in the thigh.

BROWN: Yes, ma'am. In the upper groin area thigh, yes.

CHETRY: And are you completely recovered from that?

BROWN: No. That's going to take some time to heal. It's still an open wound.

CHETRY: Now walk us through what happened when you were at this convenience store.

BROWN: Well, I did exactly what, you know, any other citizen would have done, purchase items. I put some items back for the young lady, the cashier, and I went to retrieve what was mine. And I just, you know, said, "Excuse me," picked up the items and proceed out the store.

CHETRY: So this suspect, Antonio Rivers, believes that you bumped into him and that's how this started? BROWN: I can't honestly speak what he believes. You know, obviously, he was wanted by -- you know, on several warrants and things. I don't know what was going through his mind.

CHETRY: Now when you walked back to your car to leave, did you know he was pursuing you, that he was coming after you?

BROWN: No, ma'am. As you can see on the videotape I just walk out of the store and get in my car, just like anyone else would have done.

CHETRY: And how did you know to jump up? I mean, your hair trigger reaction to jump out of the car.

BROWN: The gentleman standing at you, driver's side door, taking a gun out.

CHETRY: So you saw a gun.

BROWN: You better do something.

CHETRY: Do you believe he shot at you first?

BROWN: Oh, definitely. I mean, you know, that's splitting hairs, the fact that he has no right to approach my car with a gun, you know. He should have stayed in the store, and you see me clearly walking out. I mean, that's the educated thing to do.

He clearly was looking for a fight, and obviously, I didn't give him any kind of altercation in the store.

CHETRY: Well, this is interesting. Because the cashier is now speaking out about this, and she's claiming that you said something to him, that you said, "You ain't seen bumped yet", when we apparently accused you of bumping him. Is that true?

BROWN: I won't speak for what the cashier thinks, you know, what's going through her mind. I can't speak for that.

I think the video clearly, you know, shows there he's not touched. There's no wrestling. There's no arguing. And anyone in America has gone into a gas station and done just that, purchased something.

CHETRY: Now you have been cleared, by the way. The -- the solicitor general who analyzes this case said that there really wasn't any wrongdoing. In fact, she talks about what happened with these shootings. Let's listen.


SCARLETT WILSON, CHARLESTON COUNTY SOLICITOR: A person doesn't have to wait until a shot is fired if they reasonably believe that they are being attacked. Officer Brown acted reasonably, and that he acted lawfully.


CHETRY: What has been the reaction in the community? Because you are running for mayor, as well.

BROWN: That is correct. The community sees just how vulnerable any of us are. They also see that they have a strong candidate who is not only willing to take on crime but the other issues facing our community. And they've acted, overall, very positive.

CHETRY: You've gotten a lot of support for what happened? For what happened?

BROWN: Yes. A lot of people understand that there are many people like this in our society, and the next time you go get gas or go to the supermarket, you know, which one of these folks will jump out and decide to act on their violent natures and tendencies?

CHETRY: As for Antonio Rivers, he was shot several times. Presumably, you were able to get many shots off at him. He did survive, and now he is in jail. What do you think should happen to him?

BROWN: You know, Antonio Rivers was already wanted on several outstanding warrants. He was also wanted, I understand, by probation and parole, and hopefully they will not turn him loose on the streets of society for the rest of us to have to deal with any more. We should and deserve the right to live free and not in fear of people like this that are roaming our streets.

CHETRY: Amazing video, all of it caught on tape. Omar Brown, thanks so much for joining us with your story today.

BROWN: Thank you very much and thank the people who are in support of the campaign and the candidacy and our call for, you know, tougher criminal penalties.

CHETRY: Omar, thanks -- John.

ROBERTS: Pretty amazing story there.

Nineteen minutes now to the top of the hour.

Now, he's one of the most influential spiritual leaders in the past century and enemy of the stat, as far as China is concerned. As the United States gets ready to honor the Dalai Lama, over the protestations of China, we'll take a closer look at the man behind the robes.

And encouraging news about pro football player Kevin Everett, who suffered a serious spinal cord injury in the Bills' home opener. Sanjay Gupta has it for us next on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Fifteen minutes to the top of the hour now. Welcome back to the most news in the morning. Pictures of extreme weather around the world to show. Rowing through roads in Vietnam after heavy rain triggered floods that killed at least three people and forced tens of thousands of others from their homes.

Spectacular site over Cairo. Here's something you don't normally see. Bolts of lightning hitting the ground, streaking across the horizon as heavy rains hit that area.

And a blinding sand storm in Southern California just north of Los Angeles caused a deadly pile-up. That was on the Antelope Valley freeway, two people killed, 16 hurt. California Highway Patrol says it was total chaos. Fifteen vehicles involved including a few big rigs.

Time to check on the extreme weather across the country. Rob Marciano down there in Atlanta watching at Tornado Alley. Big alert this morning.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's for sure, and the winds out west are going to continue. High wind warnings continue to be posted for Southern California, Los Angeles, Lancaster, just over the San Gabriels and north and northwest winds. These are not Santa Ana winds. These are just kind of stirred up by oncoming storms that come off the Pacific. And there's another one coming in tonight that's pretty strong.

Mojave, 67 degree -- mile-an-hour wind gusts. Jawbone 66 and Lancaster 44. That was certainly enough to kick up the dust in those areas. And again, high wind warnings continue to be posted for today.

Tornado watches, severe thunderstorm watches for the central part of the country. This is Oklahoma, northern Texas, western Kansas. Those until 9 a.m. but likely be pushed off to the east. This system continues to move its way to the east.

Large violent tornadoes are possible, not only this afternoon but tonight through the overnight hours. Wichita east to Kansas City and then overnight tonight.

Tomorrow into Thursday we've got a severe weather outbreak that will push its way through St. Louis, maybe Nashville. Cities like Chicago and Detroit could be under the gun, as well.

John, back up to you.

ROBERTS: Rob, thanks very much. We'll see you soon -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Some encouraging news about Buffalo Bills tight-end Kevin Everett.

When he was first injured his doctors thought that there was a chance he could be permanently paralyzed. He suffered a spinal cord injury trying to make a tackle in the Bills' season-opening game back in September. His progress since then has improved dramatically.

And we're "Paging Dr. Gupta" right now. He joins us from Atlanta.

So tell us how likely it is that a patient who suffered this type of spinal injury would be able to be walking again, because reportedly, he is starting to begin that process of walking on his own.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and some tremendous news, obviously, for him and his family. He's actually able to bear weight on his legs, we're hearing. He's able to actually move his arms up, as well. You've seen those images over and over again, Kiran. Hard to watch. He actually fractured his neck at that point.

We're learning a lot about that. As you mentioned, his doctors at the time said it was unlikely he'd ever get a chance to walk again. I want to show you the type of injury that he actually had on this spine model that I have here, showing what happened to his neck.

His injury was actually between the third and fourth bones in his cervical spine over here, and it actually put some pressure on his spinal cord, which is sort of -- just all of these bones circumnavigate his spinal cord. When the bones were broken, they pushed on his spinal cord, and that caused the injury.

What we now know, Kiran, after having investigated this and looked at his specific pattern of injuries, is that Kevin actually suffered from something known as Central Cord Syndrome, which -- think of that as sort of a bruising to the spinal cord.

Most of those patients do get better. That's the good news. About more than nine out of ten patients actually recover enough to be able to walk again. So as far as we can tell right now, Kevin Everett's following a classical pattern of someone who should have -- who had this injury but should recover and appears to be recovering as expected, Kiran.

CHETRY: That's interesting, because, you know, there was a lot of fear, and it seemed at the time that what he had, meant he might not ever walk again.

GUPTA: Yes, that was a little surprising, I think, as well to us, as we looked into this. There was a lot of talk about the fact that this was a catastrophic spinal cord injury from which he would not recover.

But there's a lot of -- as you might imagine, there's a lot of studies being done on spinal cord injuries, because there are lots of patients to look at that have this type of injury.

And we know if you have specifically the Central Cord Syndrome which is what Kevin Everett has, that in fact most of the patients do recover. They do get leg function back. If they are left with weakness, it is usually solely in the hands.

And, you know, one of the most recent papers on this actually said that 97 percent of patients actually recover to the point where they can walk again. A lot of people are sort of hailing this as a miracle recovery. While it's tremendous for Kevin and his family, obviously, this sort of fits a classical pattern of recovery that you'd expect in someone like him, which is obviously very good news for him.

CHETRY: Wonderful news. We're glad that he's on the road to recovery, and, boy, we wish him the best.

GUPTA: Absolutely.

CHETRY: Dr. Gupta, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Honoring the Dalai Lama. Why the man who symbolizes peace to so many people around the world is causing an international spat. We'll have that for you, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Well, it is 51 minutes past the hour now, and if you're just joining us, a look at some of the headlines making news this morning.

Schools closed today in Bedford County, Virginia, after an antibiotic-resistant staph infection killed a 17-year-old student. Ashton Bonds, former football player, went to Staunton River High School in Bedford, Virginia. He died Monday after more than a week in the hospital.

The CDC says that staph infection cases are increasing. The drug resistant form, now more than 90,000 a year.

Congressman Henry Waxman blasting the Bush administration for not releasing information about corruption in Iraq. The details in a new House resolution. The State Department, though, says corruption is a problem but discussing details could damage U.S./Iraqi relations.

The safety of our nation's electrical grid will be the topic of a House Homeland Security hearing today. Our Jeanne Meserve first broke the story, and the committee is expected to watch her effort -- watch her reporting during that meeting.

Well, wanted: buyers in Southern California. Sales of homes and condos fell an astounding 30 percent in September. That is the lowest since they started keeping records back in 1988.

ROBERTS: Despite strong objections from China, the Dalai Lama will receive Congress's highest civilian award today, the Congressional Gold Medal.

Yesterday the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader met privately with President Bush.

Beijing has warned the United States that events honoring the Dalai Lama could damage U.S./China relations. Our Jennifer Eccleston joins us now with more from Washington.

Jennifer, some very harsh words coming from the Chinese, and you've got to wonder why are they so afraid of this gentle man in the saffron robes?

JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. Well, with 28 visits to the United States and three private meetings with President Bush, the latest just yesterday, the Dalai Lama is one of the most recognizable and revered religious figures in the world.

So respected, says the U.S. Congress, that he will indeed receive the nation's highest civilian tribute, the Congressional Gold Medal of honor.


ECCLESTON (voice-over): The 72-year-old exiled Tibetan leader will be honored on Capitol Hill by dignitaries, celebrities and politicians, including President Bush and the first lady.

It's the first time a sitting president will appear with the Dalai Lama at a public event, something the Chinese government is not happy about.

JAMES LILLEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: They bristle at it, foreign humiliation of Chinese.

ECCLESTON: The Dalai Lama fled his Tibetan homeland after a failed uprising against its Chinese occupiers in 1959. Since then, he's traveled the globe, advocating greater autonomy and respect for his culture and religion.

A Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1989, he cemented his role as a global symbol of peaceful dissent and tolerance, even a pop culture icon, with a host of Hollywood fans.

RICHARD GERE, ACTOR: His motivation is very pure. And in every situation, he really sees himself as the smallest in the room, and he's really there to serve.

ECCLESTON: Beijing, however, considers the Dalai Lama a threat to its rule over Tibet, routinely chastising governments for even hosting the Buddhist monk.

No surprise that today's honor is being sharply rebuked by Beijing, calling it interference in their country's internal affairs.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We in no way want to stir the pot and make China feel that we are, you know, poking a stick in their eye.


ECCLESTON: Well, China was not convinced. Earlier this week Chinese diplomats pulled out of crucial talks about Iran's nuclear program. Beijing cited technical reasons, but China watchers said the message was very clear: Beijing may reduce its support for international efforts to blunt Tehran's nuclear ambitions if foreign powers, i.e. the United States, interfere with China's internal affairs -- John.

ROBERTS: What's the sense about all of it, though? Is it just so much bluster or do you think they would actually make good on those threats?

ECCLESTON: Well, we have seen them make good on that threat. They have, indeed, pulled out of that meeting that took place, that's taking place today, in fact, and that will continue to go on for several days.

China watcher, the ambassador there, James Lilley, that I spoke to, said that's probably the most tangible effort we'll see. The relationship is far too important.

They were given well advance notice of this meeting. They knew for two weeks. President Bush spoke to the Chinese premier when they were at the APEC summit almost two months ago in Sydney. He told them that the Dalai Lama would be receiving this medal, which of course they knew.

But they also told him that he'd be speaking and that he'd be present at the ceremony.

And in return, he also told the Chinese premier that he, President Bush, would go to the Beijing Olympics next summer. So they had advance notice.

What China watchers are also telling me is that they'll probably put pressure on American business operators in Beijing and say, "Let's not have any more of this embarrassment," and those business leader will take it back to the administration -- John.

ROBERTS: Mostly just posturing more than anything. Jennifer Eccleston for us this morning in Washington. Jennifer, thanks very much.

And AMERICAN MORNING will return right after this.



ROBERTS (voice-over): School scrub down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't feel safe at all going back in there.

ROBERTS: The drug-resistant super bug that has already killed one student and is infecting more Americans than ever before.

Nick of time.