LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Explosion Rocks Yale University
Aired May 21, 2003 - 19:02 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We do have some breaking news to check in on here. And that is taking place at Yale University. If you've been with us on CNN over the last couple hours, you've been hearing news of this: an explosion at Yale University. It took place in a room inside the law school. It happened about 4:40, around 5:00 p.m. Eastern, the mayor saying that possibly it was a device. At this point, we're hearing nobody was injured in this explosion.
Who might have done that, why they might have done that, at this point, appears to be all sort of types of questions.
With that developing story, we want to bring in the mayor of New Haven, Connecticut. And that is Mayor John DeStefano; also, the vice president of Yale, Linda Lorimer.
Thank you for joining us today -- or this evening.
JOHN DESTEFANO, MAYOR OF NEW HAVEN: You bet.
KAGAN: Mr. Mayor, let me start with you. What do you know exactly about what might have taken place at Yale today?
DESTEFANO: Well, the first thing you know is that there's virtually no one on campus. The campus has emptied out. What we have was a report at 4:40 of an event in a classroom. It appears as though, in a classroom, there was an explosion. It did not blow out the windows. It did knock a wall down between that classroom and an adjacent lounge. No one was hurt.
The building was not in active use. And we suspect -- we haven't been able to confirm -- we suspect it was an explosive device.
KAGAN: You do.
And, Ms. Lorimer, let me bring you in.
The situation on the Yale campus, we know, of course, across America, the threat level has been raised to the level of orange. But specifically at Yale, have there been any specific threats against the university?
LINDA LORIMER, VICE PRESIDENT, YALE UNIVERSITY: We have had no specific threats. And we have a substantial security system and indeed a police force, which is always augmented by the very good offices of the New Haven Police Department. As the mayor said, our classes are over for the semester and most of the students have gone home. There was an exam given in this building in the morning, but no activities in the building in the afternoon.
KAGAN: How lucky is it, given how this building is usually used, that the building was so empty?
LORIMER: We were mighty fortunate that was now at end of the semester. And you can imagine, we feel blessed that there were no injuries.
KAGAN: And, Mr. Mayor, where does the investigation go from here? Who are you bringing in?
DESTEFANO: Right now, we're just -- the fire department is finishing going through the building to secure it. The New Haven Police Department will work the investigation with the FBI, as is typically the case on these. It is a serious event, obviously. And we'll be there for a little bit.
KAGAN: And one more question to you, Ms. Lorimer. Many, many years ago, Yale University was one of the sites of the Unabomber explosions. Any reason to believe that more threats or any other trouble might be ahead?
LORIMER: No reason we would believe so. In fact, we would think that, because of that earlier incident, we increased our police force substantially. And, in this time of year, we work hard to make sure that all of our buildings are very secure.
KAGAN: Linda Lorimer, vice president of Yale, and, Mayor DeStefano, thank you for joining us this evening.
DESTEFANO: You bet.
LORIMER: Thank you.
KAGAN: We appreciate the latest information on that.
Well, you heard Ms. Lorimer from Yale and the mayor point out that this is kind of an empty time for Yale University. But one student was inside the law school library and he says he felt the earth move when that explosion hit.
We've got another one of somebody who happened to be in that building. And he's on the phone with us right now, Tali Farhadian, a third-year law student.
Tali, thanks for being with us.
TALI FARHADIAN, YALE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: You're welcome.
KAGAN: What can you tell us about what happened? First of all, what were you doing inside the building at the time?
FARHADIAN: I was sitting in a small classroom with a few friends studying for an exam.
KAGAN: And this was about 4:30, 5:00 this afternoon?
FARHADIAN: Yes. Yes.
KAGAN: And then what happened?
FARHADIAN: Well, we just heard an extremely loud sound. It sounded like walls, really, were just coming down, or like a ceiling was falling or something.
KAGAN: So it was clear right off the top that this wasn't just some kind of construction or something normal?
FARHADIAN: No. I'd never heard anything like this before.
KAGAN: And what did you do?
FARHADIAN: Well, then there was a pause and then it sounded like glass was falling. And we were just sort of sitting there in shock, until we heard voices in the hallway say, get out of the building. And so we took our things and got out of the building.
KAGAN: But you and your friends that you were with, everybody is fine?
FARHADIAN: Absolutely. And we saw an ambulance sitting idle the whole time. So I don't think there was a single person hurt.
KAGAN: I just had the chance to ask Linda Lorimer, the vice president of Yale, if there has been any kind of threats on campus. What's been the environment and the mood there in recent days, from a student's perspective?
FARHADIAN: This is a pretty quiet time, actually, because the undergrads have left campus already and we are at the end of our exam period at the law school. So, I mean, there certainly hasn't been any sort of tension. This is totally unexpected.
KAGAN: Things have been quiet. I think it shook you up this afternoon, but all is well and you are fine.
KAGAN: Tali Farhadian, thanks for giving us a firsthand account of what it was like inside that building when the explosion took place.
FARHADIAN: Sure. You're welcome.
KAGAN: We should also let you know that our Maria Hinojosa is on her way to the Yale campus. As soon as she's there, she's going to bring us live coverage of the aftermath of the explosion, also on the ongoing investigation.
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