Lynne Russell, the first woman to ever solo-anchor a prime-time network news show, and husband Chuck de Caro, 65, had stopped at a Motel 6 for the night in Albuquerque when an intruder slipped into their room as Russell went to grab something from the car around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“I opened the door and he materialized out of nowhere; he was inside and he pushed me into the room and onto the bed and closed the door.” Lynne told reporters.
Russell’s husband, Chuck de Caro was in the shower at the time of the forced entry. He emerged completely naked and tried talking to the gunman, who was demanding the couple fork over their money and valuables.
“We tried to calm the man, ask him not to point the gun because we really couldn’t think what we could give him,” Russell said. “It felt to me he was used to doing this, that whatever happened wouldn’t bother him.”
De Caro, a former special forces officer who now works as a national security strategist, stood in front of a nightstand, where the couple had placed their own legally owned handguns. When the thug grabbed a briefcase and began firing at him, De Caro grabbed his gun and returned fire as Russell ducked behind a piece of furniture.
“It was a gun battle, and Chuck was bleeding heavily, but he didn’t stop firing because the man was firing on him, and he was looking for me,” Russell said.
De Caro was shot twice in the abdomen and once in the leg, but managed to kill the gunman with his return fire. The intruder fled the motel room and collapsed in the parking lot, where cops later found him. De Caro was rushed to University of New Mexico Hospital, where he underwent surgery and will continue recuperating for several days.
Russell credited her cool-headed husband with saving their lives, saying, “I just admire him so much. My husband is a hero because he really saved our lives.”
“I was determined to save my dream girl’s life, even if it cost my own,” de Caro told reporters, adding that his injuries “hurt like hell.”
Police say the shooting was justified, but according to Russell in reference to the dead assailant;
“The police had to stay with him, to keep me from going over to that man’s body and kicking the s–t out of him.”
Russell said she has walked through some “horrific scenes” as a journalist, but the bloody motel room was still a “shocking” sight.
“When these things happen to you personally, it’s rough,” Russell said.
The shooting happened four days into the couple’s cross-country road trip from Washington, DC, to California along old Route 66.