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February 4th, 2013
07:36 AM ET

Bus driver killed in Alabama standoff remembered as a hero as standoff continues – Victor Blackwell reports

The stand-off between police in Alabama and a gunman holding a 5-year-old boy hostage in a bunker has been going on close to a week now. The suspect is 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, described as a survivalist with "anti-government" views.

Dykes had forced his way onto a school bus and demanded to take two of the 22 children on board. The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., refused and shielded the children. Dykes killed him and kidnapped the 5-year-old. Poland is now being remembered as a hero. He was honored at a memorial service yesterday.

Victor Blackwell is following developments from Midland City, Alabama and reports on the latest in "Early Start."

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Filed under: Crime • Kidnapping • Memorial
January 17th, 2013
09:21 AM ET

Aurora shooting victim family member boycotts theater opening, argues theater using shooting as momentum for opening

Six months after the massacre in Aurora, the Century 16 movie theater where 12 people were killed and nearly 60 wounded is scheduled to roll its screens again. The Colorado theater will reopen to the public tommorrow, remodeled and renamed.

The newly renovated theater was opened this week for private visits from family members. A formal reopening dedicated to the remembrance of the tragedy will be held tonight. Aurora's mayor and Colorado's governor are expected to speak. But many families have decided not to attend tonight. Jessica Watts, whose cousin Jonathan Blunk was a victim of the shooting at Aurora, is one those boycotting the reopening. She joins us live from Denver this morning.

Watts says she has no interest in attending the theater’s reopening because she feels families are “being used as pawns” and as “momentum for their public ticket sales.” However, some families did visit the theater and said it was therapeutic for them. Watts believes “it depends on the healing process” whether some find it helpful or not. “All of us are at different stages of healing and grief and…different levels of trauma,” she says. “I know of a few family members that are going back, but I choose not to, just because I would rather focus my energy on…how we can make a change…in policies, kind of according to what President Obama wanted to do yesterday.”

The president proposed measures to curb gun violence yesterday, but it looks unlikely that the Senate will pass an assault weapons ban. Still, Watts feels hopeful. “Our pleas are being heard,” she says.

December 28th, 2012
06:10 AM ET

Ret. Gen. James "Spider" Marks remembers late Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf's legacy: 'a bigger than life' but 'humble man'

The nation this morning remembers the American general credited with orchestrating one of the most lopsided military victories in modern history. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf died yesterday in Florida. He was 78 years old.

"Stormin' Norman", as he was called, was regarded by many as a media savvy general taking the lead during the first Gulf War. The entire campaign was televised live. The president paid tribute to the late military leader last night saying, “Our prayers are with the Schwarzkopf family, who tonight can know that his legacy will endure in a nation that is more secure because of his patriotic service.” CNN Military Analyst and Retired Gen. James "Spider" Marks joins us from Oakton, VA by Skype this morning with more on Gen. Schwarzkopf’s legacy.

"This truly was a 20th century American military hero,” Gen. Marks says. “General Schwarzkopf was a bigger than life man. His nickname certainly personified all of that. It’s a label—hero is a label that he would protest openly. He was a humble man.”

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Filed under: Memorial • Military