ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. » A pair of former CNN journalists are suing Motel 6 after a man tried to rob the couple at gunpoint and the encounter led to an exchange of gunfire that wounded one of the former reporters.
Chuck de Caro, a former reporter, and Lynne Russell, a former anchor, say the chain does not do enough to ensure the safety of its customers. Their complaint was filed Tuesday in New Mexico Second District Court in Albuquerque.
KRQE News 13 was first to report the lawsuit late Thursday.
The couple’s attorney Randi McGinn said Friday that the Motel 6 in Albuquerque where the couple stayed in June is a haven for crime, and unmonitored security cameras give travelers a false sense of security.
Motel 6 did not immediately return calls for comment.
Russell was a prominent figure in CNN’s groundbreaking foray into around-the-clock news, serving as an anchor from 1983 to 2001. She was one of the first anchors hired at CNN Headline News, then called CNN 2, after it went on the air in 1982. She worked at KHON-TV in Honolulu in 1980.
On July 1, Russell told reporters that her husband decided to stop at Motel 6 because they were tired after a long day of traveling. When she went out to the car to get something and returned to the room, a man was at the door with a handgun.
"He pushed me into the room and that’s when my husband came out of the shower and saw what was happening," Russell told Albuquerque station KOB-TV. "We tried to calm him, confuse him and do everything we could do to just come out of it in one piece."
After grabbing her husband’s briefcase, the man started shooting at de Caro. Russell ducked behind the furniture and de Caro fired back, hitting the man.
The robber was killed and de Caro was wounded.
"It was a gun battle, and Chuck was bleeding heavily, but he didn’t stop firing because the man was firing on him," Russell told The New York Post.
In a July telephone interview with The Associated Press, Russell said, "He took three shots, including a couple to the abdomen. But magically, his organs were not affected.
"He’s my hero. He saved my life," Russell added.
Albuquerque police officer Tanner Tixier said it appeared to be a random robbery attempt.
"They weren’t targeted for who they were," Tixier said. "We believe the offender didn’t realize the victim’s husband was in the motel (room). He believed he had an easy target. That turned out not to be the case obviously."
Russell said the shooting happened four days into the couple’s cross-country road trip.
Ted Kavanau, a manager for CNN at its founding and founding president of CNN Headline news, said Russell told him the robber staggered out of the room.
Police officers responding to a report of shots fired found the body in a parking lot.
A former special forces officer, de Caro said he called upon his training to protect his wife.
"I was determined to save my dream girl’s life — even if it cost my own," he told The Post.
Both de Caro and Russell have concealed carry licenses.