tv CBS Evening News With Katie Couric CBS December 16, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
>> couric: tonight, a humble hero. the security guard who saved the day in panama city, florida. >> i tried to keep him pinned down. >> couric: i'm
katie couric. also tonight, a new review of u.s. strategy in afghanistan. as president obama declares "we're on track. we'll hear from a u.s. marine there who has what may be the most dangerous job in the world. >> i'll do it again and again and again. >> couric: and remembering new york's nightmare before christmas and the little boy who had an entire city praying for a miracle. captioning sponsored by cbs
from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric. >> couric: good evening, everyone. he says he is not a hero, but watching mike jones and the terrifying video from that tuesday afternoon school board meeting in panama city, florida,
you're likely to disagree. jones is the security guard who, as bullets flew, risked his life to stop the gunman. today, jones, a 57-year-old former police officer said he was just doing his job. here's mark strassmann. >> wasn't in the building five minutes and i was in a gun fight. >> reporter: when clay duke held an entire school board hostage, mike jones suddenly pace faced a security chief's nightmare. he showed me how he hurried to the aboard roomia backdoor. >> i see the shooter with the gun and i see the bored members and they were all sitting upright. i didn't have a shot. >> reporter: the gunman noticed the security officer standing in the doorway, offcamera in this video.
>> come on in. >> you you got a real gun there? >> come on in. >>. >> reporter: jones tried but failed to get duke out of the room. so he went to plan b.. >> plan b. of i ran outside to my car, parked right outside the door here, grabbed some clips, 40 caliber ui had my 38 on, grabbed my bulletproof vest. >> reporter: and he slowly opened the door. >> i knew a fight was fixing to happen. >> please don't, please don't, please. >> he fired the first shot at the superintendent and i thought he was dead and i just opened the door and he and i went at it. i opened the door with one hand, i was firing with the other hand. >> reporter: jones wounded duke at least three times, in his back and midsection. >> but, man, he wouldn't go down. and then-- and then he started shooting at the board members again, so i kept shooting. >> reporter: for cover, jones showed me how he crawled behind the back row of chairs. >> i was firing shots on the ground like this, trying to keep him pinned down. >> and looked and he wasn't
moving. and i thought, okay, he's dead. the gun fight's over. and about that time he pulled his gun to his head and squeezed the trigger. >> reporter: then the big surprise-- miraculously, superintendent bill husfelt was alive. >> i just remember when he came up over that chair i lost it. i just-- i 21 my knees and i started crying. i was like oh, my god. he's alive. and i couldn't believe it. i looked up and the rest of them were up and i was like, yeah, this is a miracle. >> couric: joining us now is mike jones from panama city. and, mike, i know that you spent the night overnight in the hospital because you were pretty shaken up by this, understandably. how are you feeling today? i'm doing fine today. i've got a lot of mixed emotions, you know. taking the life of someone, and visiting here in the room where i'm sitting now and where it all took place. we're getting there. we're fine. i'm going to be okay. >> couric: how does it feel sitting in that room?
>> uhm, you know, it's not really bad because, you know, they train us and they tell us the things to expect when you're in a shoot-out and doing those things, and everything they taught us is true. it's kind of like tunnel vision and you block everything out, and you'll usually remember one or two things and they're right. there's one thing they keep remembering, and i keep seeing it over and over, and it upsets me every time i think. it. >> couric: what is that one thing? >> uhm, when the shooting started, i saw the superintendent fall backwards in the chair. the man had the gun pointed at him, and you want to think you hear these big explosions. and you don't. you just hear pop-pop-pop-pop. and the superintendent stood up from behind the counter and that's when i lost it. i went to my knees and started crying and he was alive. and i had thought i let him down and let him die. and i can't get that out of my mind. that's the picture i keep remembering. >> couric: you weren't even supposed to be working, i understand, that day.
how did you happen to be there? >> yes, ma'am. i was-- well, you know, in florida, we don't take kindly to cold weather, and we had a major cold front coming through here, like in the teens, and so my boss asked me if i would stay monday and tuesday in case we had water outages and things like that. i said, okay i will work monday and tuesday, no problem. >> couric: who would have been there if you hadn't? >> nobody. by the grace of god that i was not on vacation and i came here. it's-- it's miraculous what happened here, the lives that were spared. >> couric: you said earlier today, mike, "i shot the man in the back the first time. and i was thinking i was going to go to jail." were you really worried about that? >> yeah. well, you know, after the shooting, all those things run through your mind. it was, like, am i going to go to jail balls i shot him in the back the first time? and then what is my church going to think of me? and, yeah, all those things go through your mind, you know, what's this going to do to my family, my wife? and that was the only thing i
could think of right then is i wanted to talk to my wife. >> couric: so this will be a special holiday for you, won't it? >> it will. it's one i'll never forget. and i try not to think about... try not to think about the deceased. his family's without him, but at the same time, i'm with my family and my fellow board members and my boss, superintendent husfelt. he's here and i'm grateful for that. my heart goes out to the family. >> couric: mike jones is busy tonight continuing his holiday tradition. for the past 27 years he's been buying new toys and repairing old ones to deliver to needy children. now, to our other top story tonight, president obama says the u.s. is on track in afghanistan. he released a year-end strategy review today that says al qaeda's senior leadership is weaker than it's been since the u.s. invasion in 2001. in much of the country, the taliban's momentum has been
stopped or reversed, and u.s. troops will begin leaving in july as scheduled. more now from david martin at the pentagon. >> reporter: a year ago, the u.s. was, by many accounts, losing in afghanistan. now the commander in chief says the tide of battle has turned. >> we've gone on the offensive, targeting the taliban and its leaders and pushing them out of their strongholds. >> reporter: defense secretary gates is just back from visiting u.s. troops in afghanistan. >> the sense of progress among those closest to the fight is palpable. the taliban control far less territory today than they did a year ago. >> reporter: but progress is only temporary unless afghan forces can take over the fighting from the americans. and that will require 18 to 24 months, depending on the area. for instance, the former taliban stronghold of marjah in southern afghanistan where the marines launched an offensive 11 months ago. >> if you look at marjah in terms of next summer, so six
months from now, we think we're going to be in a pretty good place in marjah. >> reporter: that fits the president's timetable of beginning a withdrawal down from the current 100,000 troops in july, 2011. but it still leaves the u.s. a long way from meeting its goal of all combat troops out by the end of 2014. >> for the security gains to be sustained over time, there is an urge want need for political and economic progress in afghanistan. >> reporter: that means a less-corrupt, more efficient afghan government. there are a quarter million afghan soldiers and police, but 4,000 to 5,000 go awol every month. u.s. officials call that unacceptable. and there's a shortage of civil servants, the ones who actually deliver government services, in every province. on the other side of the border in pakistan, record floods have stymied the army's offensive against the terrorist safe havens, which send fighters into afghanistan. >> it's hard to overstate the impact of the flooding in
pakistan and the role of-- and the degree to which the military military assets were drawn off the border to be able to deal with the flooding. >> reporter: general petraeus is said to believe as long as there are safe havens in pakistan, the afghans will be unable to fend for themselves. katie. >> couric: david martin at the pentagon, david, thank you. in other news, the founder of wikileaks, which posted all those secret u.s. documents about the war, is free on bail tonight. julian assange, who is wanted in sweend on sexual assault charges has spent nine days in a london jail. he posted more than $300,000 bail, some of it contributed by bianca jagger and filmmaker mike will moore. he must wear an electronic monitoring tag. on capitol hill, the house is debating the senate tax cut. meanwhile, congress still needs to pass a spending bill to keep the government run. majority leader harry reid said
he'll keep the senate in session until it does, through the holidays, if necessary. sharyl attkisson reports the problem may be all the pet projects in the bill. >> reporter: today, senate leader harry reid held up a tiny copy of the constitution to defend, of all things, earmarks. >> the little constitution that we have doesn't have a lot of information in it. >> reporter: earmarks are pet projects that members of congress pay for with your tax dollars. congress' power to earmark hpdz balance the executive branch power but earmarks have become synonymous with waste and excess. there are $8.3 billion in earmarks added on to the spending bill. $236 million worth belongs to the man holding up the constitution and he proudly disclosed and defended them all. reid earmarked your tax dollars for nobsuous weeds, darey and goat research. you name it, it's in there. but today reid attacked colleagues who voted to ban earmarks yet stuffed a bunch of
them into the spending bill. >> if you went to "h" in the dictionary and found hypocrite, under that would be people who ask for earmarks but vote against them. >> reporter: 28 senators voted for an earmark ban that didn't pass but have megaearmarks of their own. republican robert wicker has his name on about $450 million worth including shrimp aqua culture and wood utilization. democrat mark warner earmarked $66 million for marine accult uhorticultural crops and more. if anyone deserves props in this whole controversy tmight be the 11 senators who voted to ban earmarks and didn't put any in the current bill. the furry over earmarks is so bit erb the president worries it will keep the whole spending bill from getting enough votes to pass. that would disrupt budgets government-wide. >> the president would strongly prefer a piece of legislation that doesn't contain any of those earmarks. >> reporter: but the white house
spokesman urged congress to hold its nose and vote for the spending bill, earmarks and all, to keep the pentagon and other government agencies operating normally. katie. >> couric: sharyl attkisson, sharyl, thank you. in health news, the f.d.a. is reversing course on a top-selling cancer drug and saying avastin should no longer be used to treat breast cancer. recent study showed it did little to slo the disease but it will remain on the market to treat colon, lung, and kidney, and brain cancer. if doctors use it off label to treat breast cancer, insurance companies may not cover the cost as much as $100,000 a year. and still ahead here on the cbs evening news, new york, 1960. remembering what was then the worst air disaster the world had ever seen. but up next, hunting for bombs. how he puts his own life at risk to save americans in afghanistan.
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kill or wound any more americans. terry mccarthy is following the marines of the thunder third. >> reporter: sergeant matthew jack son, a bomb disposeals expert, maneuvers a robert up to a car he suspects may be booby trapped. >> you pack a vehicle full of explosives, and a group of guys near it, you can havea catastrophic kill of a bunch of guys. >> reporter: he drops an explosive charge through a window. >> all right, dropping it. >> reporter: and blows the threat away. >> reporter: the marines had to blast their way into safar bazaar back in august. buried under the streets of this market town were countless i.e.d.s. >> is everybody all right! >> reporter: today, things have changed. >> you know, when you think about just how dangerous this place was, and how completely abandoned of anything but
i.e.d.s. >> reporter: did the locals know where most of the i.e.d.s were or not? >> i locals say they did not, and i tend to believe them. accordinging to them they were all forced to adhere to a curfew at 6:00 every evening and nobody but the taliban was allowed on the street. >> reporter: two months ago this was a complete no-go area. marines found 40 bombs on this street alone. now they've been cleared. people walk here without any fear at all. >> i'm going to spand lot of time with roberts. >> reporter: jackson has lost count of the total number of i.e.d.s discovered. >> 100-plus. >> that's a huge number. >> for two and a half months it's pretty up there. >> reporter: we first met jackson in july. he lives and breathes explosives even has their molecular structures tattooed on his left arm. >> nitroglycerin. >> reporter: in two months in safar, i.e.d.s killed two of his friends, corporal dan greer and gunnery sergeant floyd holley.
several more were wounded, including sergeant johnny jones, who lost both his legs. despite their losses, jackson's team learned many valuable lessons-- how to probe for i.e.d.s with no metal that can't be picked up by the detectors. how to use robots. how to find the wires leading to the bombs. and how to share information on new types of i.e.d.s with bomb teams across afghanistan. >> we collect it and transmit the information very quick now. it's within days. >> reporter: jackson knows that leaving this adrenaline-fueled life to return to his family will not be easy. >> you miss it? >> yeah. >> reporter: your brain here works a million miles an hour, and then when you go home, i mean, how do you shut that off. >> reporter: you can walk across the field without looking where you're putting your feet. >> that's tough too,.
>> reporter: ask as jackson and his men begin their journey home they know their job is not over. he'll be coming back soon, continuing his quest to find these deadly devices. you'll do this again? >> i'll do it again and again and again. it's not just a job to me. it's a passion. >> reporter: a passion that can make the difference between life and death. terry mccarthy, cbs news, safar bazaar, southern afghanistan. [ female announcer ] with rheumatoid arthritis, there's the life you live... and the life you want to live. fortunately there's enbrel, the #1 most doctor-prescribed biologic medicine for ra. enbrel can help relieve pain, stiffness, fatigue, and stop joint damage. because enbrel suppresses your immune system, it may lower your ability to fight infections.
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card 50 years ago today, decorations up, snow falling. but the holiday spirit was suddenly shattered when two commercial airliners collided in midair. today, a new memorial to the victims. richard schlessinger now on the day planes fell from the sky. >> reporter: today in brooklyn, there is almost no sign of it, but on december 16, 1960, this was ground zarqawi the world had never seen a plane crash this deadly. >> eyewitness to history. >> reporter: it was a huge story. >> death fell here today. >> reporter: charles kuralt led a live, special report. >> disaster struck and wrote
these names. >> reporter: 134 people died when a united jet ripped the top off a twa plane in snow and fog over staten island, new york. both planes crashed to the ground burning. >> what did you think it was at first? >> i thought it was a bomb. >> reporter: six people on the ground were killed, including two men selling christmas trees. >> i saw this big fire, and i saw the tail end of a plane, and i just couldn't believe that a plane was in the street. >> nobody is really sure where the two planes were at that moment. >> reporter: the government later determined the united flight was 11 miles off course. and modernized the air traffic control system to keep closer track of airplanes. there was one survivor of the crash in brooklyn, an 11-year-old boy, stephen baltz, somehow crawled from the wreckage. >> he fell out of the sky. >> reporter: eileen bonner was a nurse supervisor at the hospital where he was taken. >> he was an absolutely charming child. >> reporter: he was talking?
>> yes, he was. >> that was the miracle of this morning. >> reporter: and everyone thought it was a miracle, especially his father. >> we're grateful to the almighty for this miraculous thing that has happened. >> reporter: we now know, through the horror of hindsight, that gratitude was premature. stephen baltz, who was found here, died the next day. his lungs had been ruined by smoke and fire. there's a plaque in the hospital where he died with some coins, still scorched, that stephen had in his pocket, one of the few remaining memories of a christmas season a half century ago when death and fire poured from the sky. richard schlessinger, cbs news, brooklyn, new york. >> couric: and that's the cbs evening news for tonight. i'm katie couric. thank you for watching. i'll see you tomorrow. in the meantime, the news
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