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From Queens County, to Gene in the Green Room

(FNC)
Click here For Laura's Photoessay

From reporting at a strip club in Queens to meeting a rock star, it has been one interesting week indeed.
(And no, the two weren't related.)

• Groom Shot Dead By Police on Wedding Day
• Gene Simmons' Autograph Fiasco


Groom Shot Dead By Police on Wedding Day

Last weekend, our FOX News Crew loaded up a satellite truck and headed for the Kalua Nightclub in Queens, N.Y. We were there to do live shots at the strip club where a groom-to-be was shot and killed by New York police officers in the early morning hours of his wedding day, November 25, 2006. The news had just broken that three of the officers involved in the shooting had been indicted by a grand jury in Queens, and they would be turning in their badges by Monday morning.

Sean Bell left the club with his friends Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield. They were struck by gunfire several times in Bell's car by five officers as they attempted to drive away. Bell, who was behind the wheel, was hit three times; Guzman, 16 times; and Benefield three times.

The trio were together to celebrate Bell's bachelor party at Club Kalua — as it turns out, the club was being eyeballed that night by the cops, in an undercover operation to investigate ongoing reports of drugs and prostitution. One of the undercover detectives told a grand jury that he thought he heard one of the men in Bell's group say they had a gun. After the detective reportedly ordered Bell to stop in his car, Bell gassed it, striking the detective, then hit an unmarked police car.

That's when the bullets began to fly.

When all was said and done, Bell was dead and 50 bullets had been pumped into the car by five officers. A gun was never found on any of the three victims or in the car. Guzman and Benefield said they thought they were being carjacked, because the officers were in plain clothes, coming at them with guns.

The day before we did our live shots, three of the five officers were indicted by a grand jury, and were arraigned the following Monday. Two of them were charged with first and second-degree manslaughter, the other with reckless endangerment. In the picture to the left, you can see the front of the club, and the growing memorial where Bell's car came to rest. It's hard to believe that this street — where people were working on their cars, and walking their dogs the day we were there — was the scene of such a major shooting.

Many people in the community have cried foul, saying that the officers should have been charged with murder, and that all five officers who fired shots should have been indicted. We were in court that Monday to watch the dramatic moment, when the officers faced a judge after they had been fingerprinted, and had turned in their badges. Also in the court were Joseph Guzman, in a wheelchair due to several bullets still lodged in him, Trent Benefield, Bell's fiancé, his mother and other family members.

It was the first time they had all been in the same room together, and it was VERY intense. Guzman craned his neck to look around armed security guards in court, who were positioned in the aisle of the courtroom. Benefield gave a stone cold glare over to the defense table where the officer who shot him were standing with their lawyers. Later, Sean Bell's mother, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and several of the lawyers involved spoke at a bank of microphones set up outside court, as police protesters chanted away. The officers are due back in court April 11, for what will be the first step in a very long legal road, to unravel exactly what happened the day Bell was supposed to walk down the aisle.


Gene Simmons' Autograph Fiasco

Later that week, as I was working in my office at FNC, I heard that Gene Simmons was in the house. The KISS legend was scheduled to appear on the Bill O'Reilly show, to promote the second season of his A&E show, "Family Jewels." (I think Simmons is the only other person I have met in the building who is as tall as Bill!)

I have a very good friend in the music business, who I nicknamed "Rock N' Roll Al." He has a GREAT picture of the rock band, Foo Fighters — in it, the band is with who we thought was Gene Simmons, blowing a crazy ball of fire into the sky. It's a very cool picture that someone in the business had made, and Al has been talking about getting it signed by Gene for a while … so when the opportunity came up, I had to take it. (Note: I was a Rock 'n Roll DJ in my former life, which is how I know Al. I don't usually ask rock stars for autographs … but this was special!)

I went into the green room for Studio A with my rolled up rock 'n roll picture ready to go. Simmons, dressed all in black with silver tipped cowboy boots, strutted into the room. He was very nice, and introduced himself around the room, shaking hands with the make-up artists, hair stylists, the producer, and myself. After explaining what I had brought in to have him sign, he happily agreed to lend me his autograph.

I was so excited to show him this unique photo that not many people have, and tell him who it was for. Then, a very uncomfortable moment happened. He looked at the photo, looked at me, looked back at the photo, and raised his eyebrows.

"This ain't me," he said.

I explained, "No … it was … it has to be!"

The person who sent Rock ‘n Roll Al the photo was a photographer who had snapped outdoor band photos at a music festival in Florida, and that he got this rare shot on film. Gene told me KISS had never played with the Foo Fighters, took a sharpie pen, and said, "Ok, well, let's look at the evidence." He proceeded to circle the parts on the impersonators body that he said clearly demonstrated that it wasn't him. He drew circles around the bottom of the famous silver thigh-high boots he wears on stage, to the can of lighter fluid in the person's hand. The boots were all wrong, and he said he would never hold a can of fluid like that.

I could have died on the spot.

Adding more fuel to the fire (ha!) Judge Andrew Napolitano, FOX News Senior Judicial Analyst, was in the green room, and Gene asked him to look at the "evidence." Gene asked him if he could sue for something like this! Luckily for me, he was a very good sport, then wrote, "Al, this ain't me," inside the fireball on the photo.

So, in the end, Rock N' Roll Al got his autographed photo, and a very unique one at that. Al has tried to contact the photographer who told him it was Gene… but when he called his friend, he had a bad connection, and could only get across, "This isn't Gene in the photo!" Strangely, the photographer friend hasn’t returned Al’s call (mmmmmmm?) … he must still be in the "can you hear me now?" zone.

As far as the rest of the conversations with Gene in the green room goes, I wish I could tell you his jokes, or about his running commentary while watching TV. Let's just say, it wasn't suitable to air … but at least he kept his tongue roped in!


Laura Ingle has been a correspondent with FNC since 2005, and most recently reported for the Gerardo At Large syndicated news magazine program. She currently is based in New York.

Laura Ingle currently serves as a New York-based correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) and also frequently anchors FOXNews.com/LIVE. She joined FNC as a Dallas-based correspondent in 2005.