ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A cross-country road trip got derailed for a former TV anchor and her husband after a would-be robber forced his way into their motel room and a shootout ensued.
Lynne Russell told reporters Wednesday that her husband, Chuck de Caro, decided to stop at a Motel 6 on Albuquerque's western edge 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.
CBS affiliate KRQE reports that the man pointed the gun at her abdomen, and then forced her into the hotel room.
"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."
KRQE reports the man became angry when the couple took too long to gather up everything he wanted to steal.
After grabbing her husband's briefcase, Russell said 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.
Russell told KRQE the couple had been driving from Washington D.C. to California and brought a gun just in case. Both have concealed carry permits, reports the station.
"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 telephone interview with The Associated Press, Russell said her husband was shot three times and was recovering at a hospital but she did not immediately know his condition.
"He's in a lot of pain," she 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 did not release names of those involved, and a spokesman, 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 trip.
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.
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. KRQE reports he was found in the motel parking lot and transported to the hospital, where he later died.
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.