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No Arrests, Suspects, or Motive Yet in Boston Bombing; Three Dead, Over 100 Wounded; Eyewitness Reports of Boston Bombing Coming In

Aired April 16, 2013 - 11:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman. Welcome back to CNN's team coverage of the aftermath of the bombings here in Boston at the end of the Boston Marathon.

Let's bring you up to speed on all that's happening right now because there are a number of developments. The city of Boston, it goes without saying, in shock this morning. Struggling to bounce back from these deadly twin bombings during the running of the Boston Marathon right at the finish line four hours and nine minutes into the race.

We just got an update from federal, state, and local officials. Here's what the Suffolk County district attorney had to say. Let's listen.


DAN CONLEY, SUFFOLK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: What occurred yesterday in Boston was an act of cowardice. While there will be an opportunity in the future at the conclusion of this investigation to officially define this act, make no mistake -- an act of cowardice and of this severity cannot be justified or explained. It can only be answered.


BERMAN: Let's talk about the facts that are really coming in every few minutes. Here's what we know right now.

So far, no arrests have been made, there are no suspects that we know of and, right now, no motive that we know of.

The toll from the twin bombings, it continues to rise this morning. Three people were killed, at least 176 were injured. One-hundred-and- seventy-six, that is a brand-new number.

The chief surgeon from Massachusetts General Hospital also spoke just a short time ago. Let's listen to what he had to say.


DR. GEORGE VELMAHOS, CHIEF OF TRAUMA SURGERY, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: We are all extremely sad. We are suffering emotionally for what happened to the people of Boston and many others.

At the same time, we can't feel but proud because the medical community here at Mass General responded in an amazing way.

Suffice it to say that some of the trauma group that happened to be outside the city jumped on planes immediately in order to come back.


BERMAN: FBI director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Eric Holder, they arrived at the White House a short time ago to brief the president. We believe that's going on right now.

President Obama is meeting with his cabinet, his national security team, and counterterrorism advisers. That will happen tonight.

The FBI is leading a massive investigation. You know, we can almost see it going on all around us, looking into what may have caused this twin set of bombings, and many people have been questioned.

Moments ago, we heard from a man who witnessed the death of one of the bomb victims, that victim, an 8-year-old who was killed. He has been identified as Martin Richard.

His father, he ran in the marathon. The son was there to give him a hug at the end of the race, and now that family, which also has suffered many injuries, they are in mourning.

CNN's Pamela Brown is with me now to tell that part of the story. Hey, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the witness I spoke with, still in a state of shock today. He was 50 to 75 yards from yesterday's explosions.

He says there is one image in particular he cannot get out of his head, that of a little boy on the ground right after the second explosion and now he believes that was 8-year-old Martin Richard.

Here's what he had to say.


MIKE MURPHY, WITNESS: When you're in such shock, you don't know really what you're seeing, and I thought I saw a child laying to the left.

And my wife didn't see that as she later told me and I thought perhaps it was clothing or perhaps it was someone's limb because there was a man there missing a limb.

But it was surreal, and it was -- whoever did it was just the embodiment of evil. It's unbelievable.

BROWN: And you said the bombs were on the ground rather than being ...

MURPHY: There's no question those bombs were in knapsacks or something on the ground because the woman whose clothing were melting into her skin. It was on her legs. The man lost a leg.

Now, if that was the child, the child was small. We would have been hit 50 feet away across the street if the bombs were higher. The bomb to the right, 75 yards away, nobody really knew what it was. Everybody kind of kept going on for a few seconds.

But the one in front of us at Starbucks, when that happened, there was no doubt, within a second everybody was running and screaming.

BROWN: What was going through your mind in that moment?

MURPHY: We didn't know how many bombs there were. I thought that perhaps there were more bombs because there had been two and I was afraid there might be some on our side. And I wanted to get my wife out of there.

She wanted to get down into the street because Timothy, our son, was due, as we thought, to cross at that time.

And we didn't know if there were other bombs up the street. We couldn't -- we finally got hold of him two hours later.

But we were so excited to be here to the marathon to see our son run, and it's a war zone.

BROWN: Is there anything that sort of surprised you? You said you were shocked. You kind of had a different reaction than you might suspect you would in a situation like this.

MURPHY: I didn't think that I would be calm. And I wasn't calm. I was just in complete shock.

When you see bodies around you and limbs, you think in advance that you're going to be just -- you'll melt down, but you really -- you're thinking, trying to move people out of there.

And I tried to get my wife out of there, but I suppose, to her credit, she immediately wanted to go down into the street.

But you're caught in a dilemma because you know it's terrorism, you're wondering if there's a third bomb to take out first responders and people that are helping.

But, you know, this was -- this was designed to maim and kill, and it did.


BROWN: I spoke to Michael Murphy yesterday. He couldn't even talk to me. He said he felt so sick to his stomach, especially after seeing that little boy on the ground.

And what's interesting here, John, as we've heard from so many other witnesses, when they heard the first explosion, they thought it was a cannon going on, some sort of celebratory cannon.

He said, as soon as he heard the second explosion right across the street from where he was, he knew it was an act of terrorism.

BERMAN: I imagine it had to be so hard for him to talk about this.

I've talked to doctors and I've talked to law enforcement officials who have seen a lot of bad things in their day and they have a hard time talking about the carnage that they saw after that race yesterday.

Pamela Brown, thanks so much.

All right, we're just getting word into CNN that President Obama will make a statement 11:30 a.m. Eastern time. He will deliver that statement from the White House briefing room.

Not sure on what he'll say. Not sure if it's an update on the investigation, if he has new news.

But, again, that statement coming at 11:30 a.m. Eastern time. We will, of course, bring it to you the second it happens.

What happened in Boston was terrifying for hundreds who were there at the scene when the bombs went off. It's terrifying to look at the video.

Cassidy Brettler witnessed the terror firsthand. This is what she told CNN.


CASSIDY BRETTLER, BOMBING WITNESS: I don't know. I mean, honestly, I got home last night at about 11:00 and started to break down because I had been holding it in all day.

I had been trying to remain composed, and, you know, on social media and on video, I tried to just portray what was happening and tell people what was going on and tell my story.

But by the time I was trying to fall asleep, it was all hitting me this was really real.

And then waking up this morning and realizing it's not a nightmare; it actually happened, and what's going to be the case today.


BERMAN: Indeed. it did actually happen.

There were thousands of people still running the race when those bombs went off. And for the first time, we're seeing what the blast looked like from it a runner's perspective.

Runners reaching the finish line, of course, one of the things you do these days is take video of yourself crossing the finish line. In this case, they were taking video of the explosion itself, smoke rising into the air. And you can just see they started running in the opposite direction from the blast. As you can imagine, that's probably a smart thing to do.

We just heard from investigators a little over an hour ago. Want to listen to this new update from Governor Deval Patrick on the latest developments. Listen.


GOVERNOR DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It's important to clarify that two and only two explosive devices were found yesterday. Other parcels, all other parcels, in the area of the blast have been examined, but there are no unexploded bombs.


BERMAN: That's a key piece of information you just heard from Governor Deval Patrick. He said two and only two explosive devices were found, and those are the two that both went off.

They did not find any unexploded devices here, no bombs that did not go off.

Right now, I want to bring in Barbara Starr. And, Barbara, you just got some new details on this investigation. What have you just learned?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we now know that about 1,000 national guard, Massachusetts and from other New England states, assembling on scene to support local law enforcement and help them out.

People have been talking about this as a war zone. Literally, John, the U.S. military, military intelligence, especially, working with the FBI, they have years of experience together now from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on assembling the forensics of bomb explosions.

What they are looking at is how this bomb was put together. What are the materials used? What was the fuse? What was the detonator? Were there any special elements of this bomb that gave it extra lethality? We keep having the conversation about shrapnel.

And what they are doing then is going back and seeing if it matches any other previous forensics that they may have from attacks either in the United States, Europe, or even Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan.

This is going to help them narrow down if there's any matching information, whether it is perhaps domestic terrorism or overseas trans-national, if you will, foreign terrorists.

It's one of the key factors they look at. This kind of arrangement has been put in place for many years now, and we know that it's one of the things they're working away very hard on, that they hope this will give them, essentially, the signature of the bomb maker because bomb- makers tend to make their bombs the same way each and every time. If they train other people to make bombs, they train them in their techniques, so finding the signature of this bomb is going to be one of the key elements to move this forward.


BERMAN: Barbara Starr, that bomb-maker signature is something that investigators are desperately searching for at this very moment.

Barbara Starr in Washington, our thanks to you.

I should say we've been hearing from doctors at Mass General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital right now.

They've been telling us what they've been finding as they've been treating patients. It might give a clue to the makeup of the bombs.

A doctor at Brigham and Women's Hospital says he's found small carpenter nails in the bodies. He's been removing carpenter nails, very small nails, from the bodies of people, perhaps some shrapnel that was added to the bomb.

Also, some small metal devices, a little bit bigger, he says, than BBs.

What that means still remains to be seen.

I'm joined by Karen Greenberg. She's the director at the Center of National Security at Fordham University Law School.

Also joined by Tom Fuentes, former FBI assistant director. And, Tom, there's a lot of questions I have here about the bombs. Two new pieces of information over the last hour, brand-new. Number one, two bombs and two bombs only, just the ones that went off, no unexploded devices. What does that tell you?

TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, first of all, John, it tells you that without having unexploded devices they're going to have to piece together the ones that did explode. So that's going to take longer than being able to reverse-engineer a bomb recovered intact.

But, to me, what this very much reminds me -- I was one of the FBI commanders at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. I was on duty assisting the commander in the command post when the Centennial Park bomb went off, and that bomb turned out to be basically a pipe bomb in a backpack.

And above it, when the investigators actually had a look at that before it exploded, it had a plastic food container and in the container was roofing nails. The FBI was able, later in the investigation, to trace back to where those nails were made, the particular company that manufactured them, and the line and approximate dates of manufacture to track that back.

And, so, when the doctor earlier this morning says that he's pulled 30 or 40 pieces of shrapnel, carpenter-type nails out of the bodies, it just reminded me very much of the Atlanta bombing, that bomb being put together by Eric Rudolph, who is now serving in prison for being convicted of that bombing.

BERMAN: It's a meticulous level of detail that you can be sure investigators are honing in on right now.

And, Karen, you know, we're still not getting any details about who may have carried this out.

The Pentagon says they have no specific leads. The law enforcement agencies we heard from just a short while ago say they don't know, domestic, foreign, no suspects in custody right now.

One thing they did do repeatedly was ask the public for pictures. They want the public to give any pictures they may have from the scene. What does that tell you?

KAREN GREENBERG, DIRECTOR, CENTER ON NATIONAL SECURITY AT FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Well, it tells you several things. I think the first is it tells you that they are open-minded to any strands of information that might come their way.

They didn't have, it seems, complete surveillance from cameras that you might have had, say, in other urban centers like London, like District of Columbia. So they are relying on individuals who witnessed things to show them pictures.

But I think one of the more interesting things that you just mentioned is that nobody's jumping to conclusions here. There is going to be a logical, rational, forensic evaluation of who put -- what consisted of putting together these bombs, what kinds of materials were used.

And it's a notable professionalism that is going on here, and it's going on across the discourse, which is that we don't know. And nobody does seem to know. Until we do know, we don't want to tie it to one or another narrative.

There are several strands of violence in America right now. One is international terrorism. Another are lone wolf individuals who have an anger at one form of government or another.

Another is a sense of domestic terrorism that could be group-related or might not be group-related. And we just don't know.

What we do know is that, unfortunately, Americans are getting used to more violence in their midst. And it is something that law enforcement and the public and public officials are going to have to handle for a long time.

BERMAN: That's to be sure.

Karen Greenberg, Tom Fuentes, our thanks to both of you.

All morning, every hour here there are new developments really on two tracks, the investigation which we've been talking about right now, but also the victims, the victims of this horrible attack. And there is new information on that front. We heard a short while ago from the chief of trauma surgery at Mass General talking about the injuries that he has been seeing. We also got a new count in terms of the number of people who have been injured.

Poppy Harlow has been standing by all morning at Brigham and Women's Hospital doing just terrific reporting from there, bringing us all the latest information. Poppy, what's new now?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Some very critical information just came out of the press conference with doctors from Brigham and Women's Hospital. We know there are 31 patients here at the hospital behind me, 5 in critical condition right now.

The news out of this press conference is -- and I'm quoting the doctor here that held the press conference -- "no question some of the objects were implanted in the device." Why is this key? This is key because there have been many questions over whether or not BB-like pellets or carpenter nails or objects of that sort were purposefully implanted in these bombs to maximize injury, to increase injury.

The evidence that this doctor has seen shows us that that is indeed the case. It is not the case in the majority of the patients that were hit by these blasts, but he said that in at least three patients they found small two to three millimeter in diameter projectiles. They also found carpenter nails and those round -- those round objects in one patient had both, other patients just had nails. So the point here being that we now know from the doctors here that there was specific effort made to implant devices that would maximize injury into these bomb blasts.

I spoke with the doctors about how resilient the patients have been. One of the doctors told me that the patients when they came in were remarkably stoic, saying that they were almost heroic, doing anything they needed to survive and to get through. In terms of how prepared they were, they said, we don't -- we were very prepared. They were ready. They said that it is never quite like the drill, but they were very prepared for this.

So, John, I just want to reiterate here, we have five still in critical condition here, and that the evidence we're seeing now is that some sort of ball bearing-type device, or BB-like device, and carpenter nails were implanted in these bombs and did hit at least three patients that have been treated here, one that has faced an amputation, two of them at this moment have limbs that are in jeopardy. That's the way they're putting it at this moment, John.

BERMAN: All right, Poppy Harlow at Brigham and Women's Hospital, our thanks to you. And Poppy just brought us that new piece of crucial information right now, that doctors are saying they are seeing evidence of pieces of metal, shrapnel, intentionally placed inside these bombs, "carpenter nails" many of the doctors are calling them.

And we know from Tom Fuentes, former assistant FBI director, that could be crucial. It tells us not just about the people who made the bombs but could be a key piece of evidence in tracking them down. You might be able to go to the places that these nails were sold to learn some information about who bought them. So that is a new key piece of information. Our thanks to both Poppy Harlow and Tom Fuentes for that.

There is a lot of other news going on in the world right now, so let's go to the Atlanta and Carol Costello for that. Hey Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hey John, thank you. And I am Carol Costello reporting from Atlanta. Across the country today, Americans are pausing to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. At the New York Stock Exchange, a moment of silence just before the opening bell. Let's take a look at the big board right now, shall we? There you see it. You see stocks are up 101 points so it's doing OK. We'll keep an eye on it.

Other news we're following this morning, gold prices are making a slight rebound after the biggest sell-off in decades. At last look (ph) the price was just under $1390 an ounce. The slight upturn comes just a day after the value dropped by $125 an ounce; that's the biggest drop ever -- daily drop, I should add. Analysts say the financial crisis in Europe and doubts about the strength of the Chinese economy are two of the reasons behind the drop.

On the Korean peninsula, there are no signs today of any cooling of tensions and now there's a new threat from North Korea that it will not give any advanced warning before any attack on South Korea. The threat came in a statement published by North Korea's official news agency.

At least 40 people are feared dead in Iran after a powerful earthquake shook an area near the border with Pakistan. At least five deaths now reported in Pakistan. The quake struck an area in Southeastern Iran. The U.S. Geological Survey says it had a magnitude of 7.8. And this was the scene in Karachi, Pakistan, just as the quake hit. It was felt as far away as Abu Dhabi where buildings shook for 40 seconds or more. Last week, another earthquake in Southern Iran killed at least 37 people.

As you heard John Berman say, President Obama is expected to give some remarks in just about ten minutes -- 11:30 Eastern Time the president takes place behind that podium. Of course we'll take it for you live.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back with much more from Boston and from Washington after this


BERMAN: Welcome back to our coverage of the aftermath of the bombings in Boston. I'm John Berman. We just got word here that President Obama will talk in a few minutes from the White House briefing room about the Boston bombings. That is scheduled to happen several minutes from now.

Our chief political analyst Gloria Borger is with us from Washington. Gloria, we heard from the president last night. Less than 24 hours, much less than 24 hours, we're hearing from the president again from the briefing room. What do you think the president will say?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think what the president is trying to do, really, is keep the American public completely informed. As you know as well as anyone, John, from being there in Boston, there are a tremendous amount of unanswered questions. There might be a lot of fear among the American public, particularly in big cities, particularly in the city of Boston.

I think if the president himself can answer any questions about the notion of terrorism and whether this was a one-off incident, whether it was domestic or not, I think those are questions the American people need answered, and I think the president believes that he is the one who ought to be reassuring the American public that everything is being done to answer these questions and to give the public some of those answers that he can share.

BERMAN: He's been meeting over the last several minutes, about an hour now, with Bob Mueller, FBI director, as well as the Attorney General Eric Holder. Later today, he's expected to meet with counterterrorism officials.

Gloria, last night, when he spoke to the country, he did not use the T word. President Obama did not say terror or terrorism, though the White House staff made crystal clear they believed it was an act of terror.

BORGER: Sure, the White House staff did. I think there's a distinction here that I think the president was trying to get across, which is when the word comes from his mouth, some people might presume that the country was under a so-called "terror attack". I don't think that was the message the president was trying to send. What the president was trying to do was be a little more circumspect.

Of course, anytime people like this are attacked, anytime there are bombs, as Senator Dianne Feinstein said last night, it is a terror -- it is a terrorist incident. But we do not know the extent of it. And what I think the president was trying to do was to send a signal that this isn't as if the entire United States of America was under some kind of alert or attack.

So I think in being circumspect, the message was sent. I think what we're going to hear today from the president is some more information that the American people can digest, that people in Boston can digest, about the extent of this and what we know from the investigation that he can in fact tell without endangering an ongoing investigation.

BERMAN: Yes, I think it's a safe bet that he will to a certain extent put more meat on the bones of the comments he made last night. You know, the president, as we always say, he has multiple roles but two of them are Commander-in-Chief and Consoler-in-Chief.

BORGER: Exactly.

BERMAN: And earlier you brought up one that kind of falls in the middle, which is Soother-in-Chief. It's not just important to calm nerves in order to make people feel good; there is a national security reason to make people feel secure.

BORGER: Right. There's a national security reason. I think people look to the president for information. People look back to the hours after 9/11, for instance, and there was a lot of confusion. And I think, you know, you're looking at an entire law enforcement community which has lessons learned since those days, and the lessons learned is: Tell the American public what they need to know to calm them, to give them information about how to behave, to, in fact, use the American public as a resource.

I mean, we heard from law enforcement this morning in Boston, send us your pictures, tell us what you know, tell us what you saw. I think these are, again, all the lessons learned the hard way since 9/11 and since other terrorist incidents where the American public can actually participate in helping to solve these questions that we still have unanswered.

And from the president himself, I think you do have the Consoler-in- Chief, but you also need to have the Commander-in-Chief here, too; you need to have somebody who says we are working together. We understand what we need to know. We are answering some of these questions. Let me explain to you why we don't have all of the answers in a nanosecond, why these things are complex, complicated, and let people know that, in fact, the law enforcement community is working together to figure out just who did this.

BERMAN: It really does feel like there is an extraordinary level of communication and coordination here. For an event like the Boston Marathon, you have a huge number of security personnel on hand already, not to mention a huge number of medical personnel on the scene already.

One other thing at play here, Gloria, is that the Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, is really a close friend of President Obama's, probably the closest friend he has who occupies a governor's mansion. You have to assume that there's an extraordinary level of communication going on right there.

BORGER: Oh, absolutely. And in the first minutes after the attack, one would presume a communication between the president, the FBI, and, yes, the fact that they're friends matters, but also I think there would have been anyway, John. And I think the fact that this was the Boston Marathon and that there is a lot of photographic evidence may mean that they can come to some conclusions sooner rather than later on this. But, as you know, there are lots of strands to an investigation like this.

BERMAN: There certainly are. Gloria Borger, thank you so much for that.

We received a two-minute warning for President Obama to speak to us all from the briefing room a little bit ago. So within the next two minutes, we expect to hear from the president. So let's go now to our chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin who is at the White House. And Jessica, what do we know about what he might say?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. President Obama has just wrapped up a briefing with his top national security team that involved his attorney general, his FBI director, the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. The vice president was also in there as well as his national security team and his chief and deputy chief of staff here in the White House.