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Boston Marathon Terror Attack; Interview with Julie Jeske, Bombing Eyewitness

Aired April 16, 2013 - 09:00   ET






OFFICER: We need help up from the medical tent. Get as many people up here as you can from the medical tent.

JEFF CURTIS, HELPED VICTIMS: They were banged up bad. They had severe lacerations, amputees, a lot of shrapnel. You know, pretty big explosion.

ED DAVIS, BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: This cowardly act will not be taken in stride. We will turn every rock over to find the people who are responsible for this.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You see there the images that are moving the country. Good morning to all CNN's view viewers, I am Chris Cuomo in Boston. This is our continuing coverage of the bombing attacks at the iconic American event, the Boston Marathon.

We welcome all of you in the U.S. and around the world. Can you see what I am holding in front of me? This is "The Boston Herald". The picture always tells 1,000 words. People who were to celebrate, people who were here for Patriots Day, a cultural fascination that brings families together from here and 100 different countries turned into chaos. Two different explosions. Two different bombs.

Today, they struggle to continue. The story not over. It is not over for the over 150 people who were injured, the three people and their families who lost their lives. In the hospitals right now, people continuing their battle for their lives, many still seriously and critically injured. We will give you the latest on them and their stories are developing.

Also, here is what we know at this hour about the investigation. Of course, two tracks going on. Among those who lost their lives, one picture has stayed with us this morning. An 8-year-old boy -- his name, "The Boston Globe" says, Martin Richard. You are looking at him there. A picture that so many can identify with, because you have a kid like him, because you have a picture like that of a communion, where he's holding up his name made by his parents or godparents.

The story of how he lost his life, equally heart wrenching. He was here with his sister and his mother. He was here to cheer on his daddy, who was running the race. They gathered on the sidewalk to give him that celebratory hug that so many families were here for. He loses his life. His sister loses her leg. His mother has a brain injury and is in the hospital as we speak. That father loses, in one way or another, everything that mattered to him. His life, families like him, dealing with this type of loss and pain.

In the hospital still at least 17 people in critical condition. The medical response here, a huge part of the story. The injuries that we saw yesterday, that we did not show you, looked like it was a war zone. This bomb, an improvised explosive device-like type of explosion. The power, devastation, but on scene, people here to help with the marathon, to help with cramps and maybe cardiac arrests, became emergency traumatic triage. They saved lives yesterday.

So who did it? That is the second prong of this story -- the investigation. So far no group has claimed responsibility. What does that mean to investigators? We'll tell you about it this morning. We do know, on all levels, they are scrambling, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and control here on the ground. We have seen vehicles and personnel from so many different agencies canvassing all night long. There were people moving in and out. There was an executed search on an apartment that was connected to someone who's in a hospital right now, has not been named a suspect but authorities are interviewing him.

This goes from the FBI, top down, the White House, Washington meeting about this, the president making statements, making sure all resources are on the ground to find out who did this and why. We do know that the investigators have leads. We do know that they feel positive about the progress that they're making.

And we are covering it from all angles. We have extensive team coverage of this developing story. Again, two tracks. What do we know about who did this and why? A lot of that will have to do with the bomb, what they call the signature, the materials, how they could have been accessed and by whom. How it was made, what does that tell us about the level of sophistication.

But of course what is on our heads and our hearts this morning are the people who were hurt here, the people who lost their lives. Poppy Harlow is at one of the hospitals still fighting battles for the wounded. Susan Candiotti has latest on the investigation for us. Brianna Keilar is at the White House this morning with the latest response of how they're moving assets, how they're moving information. And then what is the reaction to this story here in Boston, the larger home of the country? The world and its markets? Alison Kosik at the Wall Street center to figure out what's going on, looking into markets with us.

Of course, again, as I've said many times, because it bears repeating, the most important part of this story for us are those who were injured, over 150, those who lost lives, the three people. Luckily so far that number has not moved up. Hopefully it doesn't.

Let's go to Carol Costello. She is on the set. She has more on the little boy whose life we know was taken here yesterday. Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, you talked a lot about Martin Richard, Chris. That little boy now sadly the face of this tragedy. He was just eight years old, a much loved boy. This is a picture of Martin, who according to affiliate station WHDH ran into the street to hug his dad who was just about to cross the finish line. That moment of joy, that moment of triumph turned deadly for Martin.

It nearly killed his mother and sister too. Martin's 6-year-old sister lost her leg and their mother suffered a severe brain injury. At their home in Dorchester, that's a suburb of Boston, candles burn, and the word "Peace" is scrawled on the sidewalk outside the house. Martin's relatives are grieving online too. His cousin tweeting, quote, "I love you, Martin. You will be in my mind forever and ever." And his aunt, quote, "Martin, you were the sweetest, funniest boy. I'm going to miss you so much, are you an angel."

WHDH reports Martin's mother, Denise, is out of surgery. His little sister, who's in first grade, is still in the hospital. We believe she's lost her leg. We can only assume the father, Bill Richard, is OK, at least physically. But we do know he is much loved and active in his community. "The Dorchester Reporter" says the Richards family is, quote, "deeply involved in all facets of life in Dorchester from Little League baseball and soccer to their church, Saint Anne's Parish in Neponset."

So, Chris, prayers -- prayers online everywhere, people tweeting prayers for the family who has lost so much.

CUOMO: Carol, thank you and certainly they are needed. That picture of that little boy -- not only does he just look so perfect but it's just such a sign of how he was just beginning his life. It's so hard for this family to recover, and families like them. Maybe they didn't lose somebody, but they have someone who's injured. Maybe they don't have someone in the family, but they knew them. There's so many layers of injury and hurt that are going on here.

And remember, it is not over. Many are still in the hospital. They face critical injuries like the loss of their limbs. The pictures that we saw that we are not showing you really speak so loudly that this could have been worse. Many still need multiple surgeries.

Poppy Harlow is at one of the hospitals continuing team coverage. She's at Brigham and Women's Hospital right now. Poppy, what do we know about the current status of people still in the hospital? What needs to be done?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Well, I'm so glad you brought up the point that this is really just the beginning, that some of these patients that have the most severe, the most complex injuries, that had to have amputations, will have to come back again and again for repeat surgeries. That's what we heard from one of the trauma surgeons at Mass General hospital last night. Some bad news for viewers. I can tell you that the number of injured in this attack has increased by ten; it is now 154 people. That is CNN's latest count according to all of the hospitals here in this area that we have spoken to, 154.

Behind me here at Brigham and Women's, they are treating the most injured of all of the hospitals, 31. I can tell you that the number of those critically injured does remain, though, at 17 where it has been at the middle of the night. However, the number of those in serious condition has risen from 25 to 41. Ten people we know have lost a limb in this attack through amputation.

The only slight improvement that I can share with our viewers on injuries, Chris, comes to children. And as we follow what Carol just told us about that beautiful 8-year-old boy who lost his life, well, we know that nine children were injured in this attack. Nine children. Eight of them, we are told, were treated at Boston Children's Hospital. I just got off the phone with Boston Children's Hospital, their spokeswoman, and she told me, of the eight children that they treated, none are or were in critical condition, that their conditions range from good to serious, that some were treated and actually released overnight. We don't know how many but we do know that all eight children are not still at the hospital, and that is a bright sign. Of course, we will keep in touch with them to find out the status of the rest of the children.

But that is the only improvement. When you look at the bigger picture, the number of casualties -- excuse me, the number of injuries has gone up by ten.

CUOMO: All right, Poppy, thank you very much. And you are right, you take good news where you can find it. We'll keep coming back to you. Let us know, obviously, we want as much information about people hopefully getting out of that hospital, getting on with healing with their families, and back to their lives.

Two tracks, remember, what's going on with those affected by this on the ground and then the investigation to find out who did this and why. As you can imagine, authorities are still looking for clues behind the deadly attack. Federal and local authorities are right now searching a home in a nearby Revere complex. Not right now; they did it last night. They were looking at it. We believe it was done with the cooperation of an individual who's in the hospital, not named as a suspect or person of interest.

But what does that mean? It means they're cooperating. It means that there was a level of access. They went in, they left with a bag of evidence. We are told that the apartment is linked to a young Saudi man who's in the U.S. on a student visa. Again, not named suspect, not named person of interest. This could have been informational. They're casting a very wide net.

Right now, we hear that nothing has been found related to the bombings. Very important. In the interest of what happened, we don't want to over-include people or over-include theories that do not deserve it at this point. So what we can report is that this investigation, the FBI is leading it. You have the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the best coordinated set of agencies that we have to deal with homeland security. Cities around the country on higher alert because of this -- big cities, cities with sporting events playing attention to this. We're going to learn from it. Do things differently.

What does it mean in terms of how the investigation moves forward from what they're learning here on the ground? Very sophisticated so let's bring in from New York CNN national security analyst, former assistant to President George W. Bush for homeland security, Fran Townsend.

Fran, thank you very much for joining us this morning as part of our team coverage. Do you have any new information for us from your sources?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I do, Chris. Talking to federal law enforcement officials, I understand the FBI's emergency response team, this is the team that goes to the crime scene and collects all of the evidence. They refer to as the ERT. The ERT has now cleared the crime scene; that doesn't mean that it's open. Of course, you see the Boston PD still there.

But the FBI's emergency response team has collected the evidence at the crime scene, at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. They're now inventorying it. They will take it back. They will look at it and they will use that to help them prioritize interviews and to prioritize how they go through, in what order, video surveillance camera tapes to identify and link them to the evidence found at the scenes.

We also understand from federal investigators that they have not found -- there were reports early on of ball bearings being used to -- as part of these devices to increase the injuries. Federal investigators tell me that they've not found ball bearings, but their current theory that they're working on is that these devices were placed in trash cans and that when the trash cans exploded, that would have made the shrapnel that caused all of these horrific injuries that Poppy was talking about.

Next, they tell me that we know there were two bombs at the finish line to the Boston Marathon. We heard reports overnight that there may have been as many as two, possibly three, unexploded devices that were seized. Federal investigators tell me, look, there were lots packages, unattended packages, that were destroyed. That may be what those reports were referring to. But right now, federal investigators believe there were only the two bombs that were exploded and caused all the damage at the end of the Boston Marathon.

And finally, Chris, you reported about this Saudi student. I understand from federal investigators this individual has been very cooperative, that he is not in fact a suspect. And right now they don't believe that they got anything of significance out of that search.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much, Fran, appreciate it. Thank you for staying on the story. We'll come back to you when you get more information. Keep this story moving forward. Thank you very much.

Remember, factors, the size of the area, the number of people. You can look at these two ways. They're helpful because there is tons of access to this, but also needle in a haystack. So many different peopl, so many different variables.

CNN analyst, former assistant homeland security secretary Juliette Kayyem joining us now. Juliette, you've been with us all morning figuring out what's going on here. Let's pick up on something that Fran said there. When you look at this, how does this rate as a difficulty factor for an investigation? Tons of people, cell phone communication, closed circuit TVs, everybody has a device these days, lots of eyeballs on the situation, and yet also so much to go through. How do you balance it?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN ANALYST: I think, overall, it's going to be pretty good for the investigation for the reasons you said. This was a high-profile event, lots of cameras, potentially eyewitnesses. We're going to we'll have to cull through that, see who knew what, saw what, maybe didn't know they saw something. But someone came in. And then you have the cameras and the bomb material, the stuff related to the explosives.

CUOMO: Following up with the cell phone information, it tells us who was talking to whom, but may relate to detonation?

KAYYEM: Potential detonation. At the two moments of detonation, you might link it to a service and then the service might link it to a potential customer. One can only assume.

We don't know if a cell phone was being used. I will say this. They almost immediately moved to stop the runners, half a mile. Move them over to here, from Boylston to Commonwealth Street, which is this street right here. I saw them all walking down the street yesterday. It meant that you did -- the key thing you have to do for the investigation, which is you secured the crime scene. So it wasn't chaotic there.

Once they got the initial people out it did preserve a sort of area where the FBI and others are in there looking at the forensic evidence. That is key and that was a really smart move, in their mind, they had, wait this is clearly going to be a crime scene. We can't have thousands of people mulling through.

CUOMO: And also mitigation, right? Two explosions, 12 seconds apart, how much more could it have been? Literally, thousands of innocents running up, exhausted, mentally drained. Very vulnerable.

KAYYEM: I've done marathons. Yes, you have no idea where you were. And if you're sort of taken away.

So, there were family reunification issues, I talked to people yesterday who were looking for their families. Those are fine, people are back together if they're not, unfortunately, in the hospital. One thing I do want to say when we talk about this city sort of bouncing back. I mean, it's noisy now. It's getting later in the day.

Part of that is liked to how good the response was. It was not panic. It was not chaotic. People got through. People got home.

We tend to think of resiliency as a mood, right? It's not just a mood. It's related to how the response occurred. And so, while we might go, oh, how could this happen? Was it a failure of intelligence?

Really, a sign of a very resilient nation is one that can respond quickly and then get people back on the streets. Today, I just saw a bunch of runners. So that's good.

CUOMO: Right. You know what? In a much lighter note here, obviously, of seriousness. So many people didn't get to finish race. It will be interesting to see what the city does to move forward --

KAYYEM: Right.

CUOMO: -- to kind of make this symbolic for them, you know?

KAYYEM: There will be a marathon next year.

CUOMO: I'm sure, and different and hopefully better than any other before because of what they learn and how they come together here.

Juliette, thank you very much --

KAYYEM: Thank you.

CUOMO: -- for being with us throughout the morning, as we piece this together.

There's so much to this story, as it continues to develop. We'll track the investigation and we'll be tracking the latest on the people who are still fighting for their health and well-being in the hospitals, when we come back.


CUOMO: Right now, we want to show what's going on at the New York Stock Exchange, a moment of silence to honor the bombings victims of the Boston bombings. This is happening right now.

Let's take a listen.


CUOMO: The opening bell there, business resumes, the men and women on the floor, know all too well who it is like to have your life disturbed and in many cases destroyed by violence.

That's exactly what happened here in Boston as bombs went off, right near the finish line of one of the most beautiful American events, a cultural collaboration, in Boston, the Boston marathon.

Many runners just steps away from completing an epic journey, these bombs placed as we know at one of the busiest corners, one of the busiest times of the race. Now, somebody who is able to finish before this happens, one of the lucky ones, denoted by the coveted yellow jersey is Julie Jeske of North Dakota.

Julie, congratulations on finishing the race.


CUOMO: Thank God you got through before this all happened. From North Dakota, showing how huge this is, 100 countries, almost every state represented.

You finished. Where were you? What was going on?

JESKE: I finished about 10 minutes prior to the blast. I got my heat blanket, I got my medal and I had just gotten my food. I had to stop for a minute, because my leg was starting to cramp and so, I was holding on to two gentlemen, and then, all of a sudden, I heard a loud boom, everyone's head turned, and we heard another boom right now. And, by the time we turned our heads, you could see the smoke billowing above the building.

CUOMO: What did your head telling you what it is?

JESKE: You know, actually, there's another gentleman standing there, and I said, what do you think that was? And he solidified what everyone was thinking, he said, I'm pretty sure that was a bomb.

CUOMO: Interesting point, one of the things that helped people get through the situation yesterday, kept casualties low was poise and calm. Do you think there was a little bit of, it's so out of place, this is such a beautiful event, this is so unexpected, that people didn't panic right away?

JESKE: We really didn't. I mean, the gentleman who had told me it's probably a bomb, he spouse must have been behind me, and he said grab yourself, we need to get out of here. So we all kind of just proceed to the buses to grab our stuff. When I got to the bus line, there weren't a lot of people in line at this point. Within two to three minutes, the buses were -- there were a lot of people lined up waiting to get bags.

I felt bad for people in the buses. I think they were getting a little flustered. One of the women next to me, they couldn't find their bag and she kept saying, my husband and my child are at the finish line, my husband and child are at the finish line and I don't have a cell phone. I said, don't worry, I got a cell phone in my bag. So, the phone in my bag, I pulled my cell phone out, but by time, they had knocked down all the towers. So, we weren't able to reach them.

CUOMO: People become family in a moment, right?

JESKE: Yes. CUOMO: In an instant.

Did you see a lot of that? People doing what they could, even if they were tired from the race, to help?

JESKE: They were helping people. You know, you make fast friends.

This woman, like I said. I couldn't help her with my cell phone. I gave her a hug. And I said, I know your family is going to be fine. I had her husband's cell phone number, because we have tried to reach him.

Last night, I sent her a text and said I have been praying for your family. I hope they are safe. Their safety has been weighing on my mind. And she texted me back, said they were just fine.

CUOMO: Were you close enough to see how people were affected by it?

JESKE: You know, it was such a surreal moment that everyone was having a hard time processing it. There was that moment were people like, let's get our stuff, get out of here. We need to be away from this.

CUOMO: So, you're making the right choice. You can deal with these two ways. The worst marathon or will be the most meaningful and you use it as a positive going forward?

JESKE: This is my fourth Boston marathon.

You know, even prior to the race, I was kind of thinking, maybe I -- this will be the last time I run the Boston. Watching the volunteers and the spectators, there's such a huge part of the whole marathon, I would come back and volunteer, just this tribute.

CUOMO: That's what matters most. Congratulations --


JESKE: Thank you. Thank you very much.

CUOMO: Thanks for joining me here today.

JESKE: Thank you. Thank you very much.

CUOMO: Julie Jeske, one of the ones who was able to finish. Thousands did not and will become part of the living legacy of this race. How the city decides to come back from all of this.

We too will come back after a break. There is more and developing information about this investigation, about the fights going on in hospital for people to keep their lives intact. We'll give you it all when we come back.


CUOMO: Welcome to CNN's continuing team coverage of the Boston marathon bombings. I'm Chris Cuomo here in Boston. The investigation continues all around us. Any moment, the FBI will hold a news conference on the bombings that occurred. We'll bring that to you live.

We're hoping learn more at that press conference. It will involve the police, governor, and the FBI, and the FBI and how they're coordinating what they're learning as they move forward.

We do know overnight, the search of an apartment in a nearby town in Revere, connected to interviews going on at a hospital, with somebody who as at an event. They are not named the suspect or person of interest. We hear they are cooperating.

But there was a search. A bag of evidence was taken out. Bomb technicians took part. There was no discussion of any possible link to the bombings, very important to remember. Want the investigation to move forward, but accurately and correctly.

An 8-year-old boy has been stealing our hearts this morning. He is one of three people who lost their lives. "The Boston Globe" says his name is Martin Richard. The photo you see, the beautiful boy, his communion, his white little suit, there he is, perfect in every way. And then his life was taken.

He was here to see his daddy who was running the marathon. His mother and his sister were here as well. Both seriously wounded. Both still in hospital as we understand.

One family that suffered such tremendous loss. So many others dealing with loss as well, 154 wounded.