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Ex-CNN staffers in ABQ shootout

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — She’s a former CNN anchor and a black belt. He served in the U.S. Army, is a national security strategist and former CNN reporter. Both reportedly have concealed weapons permits.

Lynne Russell and Chuck de Caro on a plane after they were married in Italy. (Twitter)

Former CNN anchor Lynne Russell and Chuck de Caro, a former CNN reporter, after they married in Italy in 2014. (Twitter)

On Tuesday, one of the weapons they carry was put to use.

The couple were staying at a Motel 6 in Northwest Albuquerque on Tuesday while on a cross-country trip to California. Shots were fired, and a man ended up dead in the motel parking lot.

Police haven’t provided details of their investigation into the shooting.

But Lynne Russell, the former CNN anchor, said she and her husband, Chuck de Caro, were held at gunpoint by a man who tried to rob them before bullets started flying.

APD's Mobile Crime Lab was at the Motel 6 on Illif NW after a man was found shot to death in the parking lot early morning July 1. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

The Albuquerque Police Department investigates at a motel parking lot where a man was found dead. A former CNN reporter and former CNN anchor were involved in the shooting, and they say the man was trying to rob them. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Russell, who graduated from Manzano High School, said they stopped at the Motel 6 near Coors and Iliff because they were too tired to continue traveling that night. When she went to get something from her car, a man pointed a gun at her and forced her back into the couple’s room. De Caro was in the shower, and when he came out he saw the offender had forced her against the bed, she said.

Russell said she and de Caro tried to talk to the man in an attempt to calm him down, and he told them his girlfriend had been kidnapped and he needed money or valuables. Russell said she tried to give the man medication, but he didn’t take it.

Russell said both she and de Caro have concealed weapons permits and had put two guns in the bedside table. Russell was able to slide one of them into her purse and handed the purse to de Caro.

She said she and de Caro continued to try to find items the intruder might want until the man saw de Caro’s briefcase. When the intruder demanded the briefcase, de Caro told him there was nothing valuable in it.

The intruder got upset that de Caro wasn’t giving him the briefcase and opened fire, she said. De Caro, who had the gun from Russell’s purse, returned fire.

Russell said that de Caro fired six shots and that when he was finished the intruder was still firing. The intruder died in the parking lot, she said.

“It was a shootout,” she said. “When Chuck exhausted the weapon, he was bleeding profusely.”

De Caro was hit three times – in the abdomen, the leg and lower abdomen. Russell said she had to dive behind a piece of furniture to avoid being hit.

De Caro was taken to University of New Mexico Hospital and is expected to survive. He will be there about a week, Russell said.

Police have not named the suspect. UPDATE: Police ID intruder (july 13, 2015)

Russell said the suspect was a thin, black man wearing green and white. He was agitated and seemed desperate, she said.

“I knew he wouldn’t mind shooting us,” Russell said.

She said they tried to negotiate with the suspect for a long time before it escalated.

“You really don’t want to shoot someone,” she said.

Albuquerque Police Department officer Tanner Tixier said police were called to the motel around 11:30 p.m., and when they arrived, they found a man dead in the parking lot.

Tixier said detectives believe the suspect was armed when he confronted de Caro and Russell.

“The male victim and suspect exchanged gunfire,” Tixier said. “Initial investigation shows both males fired multiple rounds and both sustained gunshot wounds.”

When asked, Tixier said he didn’t know of any physical evidence that contradicts Russell’s account but said detectives haven’t confirmed all those details.

Mick Chenault, who was spending the night at the motel on his way from Phoenix to St. Louis, said he saw police lights around 12:30 a.m. and went outside. He said he saw a man who looked like he was shot in the head lying in the parking lot directly below his motel room.

His travel partner Jason Hill said the dead man appeared to be African-American and was wearing shorts and a T-shirt.

Hill said he has stayed at the motel in the past and likely will again.

“This stuff happens everywhere, I guess,” Hill said.

Russell, who is credited with being the first woman to solo anchor a prime-time newscast, said she and de Caro hadn’t planned to stay overnight in Albuquerque.

She said de Caro was calm and collected during the attempted robbery.

“He’s my hero,” Russell said.