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Bombings In Boston; Search Is On For Boston Bombing Suspect And Motive; The Latest in the Boston Bombing; Earthquake in Southern Iran

Aired April 16, 2013 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was a heinous and cowardly act. And given what we know about what took place, the FBI's investigating it as an act of terrorism. Anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was horrific. The bomb just took out the legs of everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was very 911-ish, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I made the turn, it was the first pop, boom, and another one, boom, and another one, boom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My immediate reaction was to seek cover.

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CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here we are in Boston, just outside Copley Square still dealing with aftermath of the Boston marathon bombings. The attacks on the people here have been felt in Boston, in this state, around the country and the world. We have new information for you about the investigation, about the struggles still going on in the hospitals for people who are dealing with very serious injuries and, of course, the face that has captured us in the aftermath of this little boy, of little Martin, eight years old, lost his life.

We just got word from his family, a statement of Bill Richard, the father who was running the marathon. Remember, his son, his daughter, and his wife all came to see him, all were injured. His son lost his life. The statement says, my dear son, Martin, has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston. My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries. We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we never met for their thoughts and prayers. I ask you to continue to pray for my family as we remember Martin. We also ask for your patience and for privacy as we work to simultaneously grieve and recover. Thank you. That is from the father who finished this race only to learn that he had lost what is most important to him, his son, and his daughter was hurt, and his wife was injured, too. We hear, Erin, that she is recovering. But that really sets the mood for what's going on here. People are walking a block behind us to where the blast zone was. They are putting down flowers. They're stopping for moments of thought. They're trying to move on. Simultaneously, people are fighting for their lives in hospitals, still in very critical, serious condition in many cases. And an investigation is expanding every moment to try to figure out who did this and why -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, somehow. Everyone, of course, this is Chris Cuomo in Boston and Erin Burnett here in New York. We have extensive team coverage of the terror attack in Boston. We are bringing you everything we know on this developing story. And it's still very much is that as we try to find out who was responsible and how it happened.

This hour, you will hear from our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta talking about those people fighting for their lives today. And he's at Brigham Women's Hospital in Boston. Many bomb victims are being treated there. And, of course, our CNN Analyst and former FBI Director, Tom Fuentes, is joining us Washington as we are just getting new information about the bomb and how it was designed. Our Chief Washington Correspondent Jessica Yellin is live from the White House. So, we have every angle, of course, Chris, covered as we try to find more information out.

CUOMO: And, Erin, because we obviously set the scene here by remembering this little boy who lost his life. Three lives were taken, his face kind of captures the symbolism of how harsh and painful the situation was. We're learning more about him and the family. We just heard about the reaction from his father. We go to Carol Costello's piece now setting up exactly who this little boy was and what was lost.

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CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Martin Richard is now sadly the face of this tragedy. He was just eight years old, a much loved boy. This is Martin who, according to affiliate station WHDH, ran into the street to congratulate his dad who was just about to cross the finish line. That moment of joy and triumph turned deadly for Martin.

MICHAEL MURPHY: 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.

COSTELLO: And nearly killed his mother and sister. Martin's six- year-old sister lost her leg and their mother suffered a severe brain injury. At their home in Dorchester, candles burn and the word peace scrawled on the sidewalk outside of the house. Martin's relatives are grieving online. His cousin tweeting, I love you, Martin. You'll be in my mind forever and ever." And his aunt, Martin, you were the sweetest, funniest boy. I'm going to miss you so much but now you're an angel. WHDH reports Martin's mother, Denise, is out of surgery. His little sister, who's in the first grade is still in the hospital. We can only assume his dad, Bill Richard, is OK, at least physically. But we know he is much loved and active in the community. The Dorchester reporter says that Richard's family is, quote, "deeply involved in all facets of life in Dorchester from little league baseball and soccer to their church, St. Ann's parish, in Neponset." Carol Costello, CNN, Atlanta.

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CUOMO: That little boy's face, his smile, that picture of him in his communion suit, it's tough to see. It's tough to see what was lost. Three lives taken in a situation that certainly could have been worse. I know that's a perspective tough to take when we've had loss. But we'll go to Sanjay Gupta who's at Brigham and Women's Hospital because we know, Sanjay, that there are people still in there and for all we know -- we also know, it is not over yet. Words like serious and critical, what do they mean? What is still up in the air?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, in the -- in the hospital behind me here, and it's one of nine hospitals the patients were brought to yesterday, Chris, there are five patients in critical condition. And part of this is semantics but, Chris, the message is that they are still in an intensive care unit. Their vital signs may be fluctuating. And as you say, I mean they are literally fighting for their lives. Critical condition usually means that. There are several patients in serious condition as well which is one step lower than critical condition. And some of these patients, I can tell you, Chris, have been going back and forth. Some getting better, some becoming increasingly unstable. That's what's happening.

I should point out as well, Chris, to your point earlier, some things worked well. There were -- there was a first wave of patients that arrive here, the doctors told me, within 15 minutes of the explosion. So very quick. So key, Chris, taking care of trauma patients. Within an hour, that proverbial golden hour, all of the patients that were going to arrive here at Brigham and Women's did arrive here.

One thing I'll point out, Chris, you may have heard this but just in case you haven't, the doctors have confirmed to me that within those explosive devices, there was some back and forth on whether they contained other things, such as carpenter nails and B.B. like things, and the doctors did confirm now that, in fact, is true. Those explosive devices did contain those things. So, details still coming out. We're going to go inside the hospital here in just a little bit, Chris, and learn more.

CUOMO: All a very important reporting, Sanjay. Thank you and we look forward to getting it from you. And also benefited from your perspective that as horrible as this is, the idea that only three lives lost when over 170 injured by such crude and powerful devices shows what an amazing response there was on the ground and at the hospitals. Sanjay will be giving us more about what he gets from his reporting, Erin, but back to you for now. BURNETT: Yes. And, Chris, I want to find out the latest we have on this investigation. As you all know, it has been rapidly developing and there are so many more questions than there are answers. And there are still so many more questions than there are answers.

Joe Johns has been covering the latest on the investigation for us and he's in Washington. So, Joe, let me just start with the latest information that has been -- that we have. All right, a law enforcement official telling us this was -- I want to make sure I put the quotes around it where appropriate, likely but not certain that there was a timing device attached to the explosive device, not activated by a cell phone. But, of course, something that would indicate someone could have set this up and left well before it would have -- would have detonated. What can you tell us about that in.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, that's the sum and substance of it, Erin, quite frankly, likely but not certain that there was a timing device attached to the bomb which our reporting has described as apparently encased in a pressure cooker and discarded there on the street, perhaps to look like trash. And talking to more than one law enforcement source now, what we're being told is the developing picture is one of fancied up pipe bomb, if you will. That it was really very weak in nature by substantive terms compared to IEDs all across the world.

But placed in this location with so many people, it caused a lot of injuries. Had it been, say, PETN or some other stronger explosive, there -- we would have seen a lot more casualties. But this is being described as a fairly primitive device with some type of a timer on it as opposed to being triggered by a cellular phone and that is what the authorities are working on right now. It's important to note that authorities are also telling us this information as we have it is not 100 percent likely but not certain, isn't 100 percent for sure -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to you, Joe. And when Joe says they're so, you know, emphatic that this is not 100 percent, you know, that gets back to the point that so far, they still say that there was no warning, nothing that could have picked up in advance like -- that something like this was going to happen and that makes it even more difficult to find out who was responsible.

I want to get a little bit more on this development that Joe is reporting on and how significant it is. Our former FBI Assistant Director, Tom Fuentes, of course our analyst here at CNN joins us. And, Tom, what is your view of the significance of this information on a timing device? What does that tell you about the sophistication of the attack, who might have been responsible?

TOM FUENTES, CNN ANALYST: Hi, Erin. Well, first of all, a timing device means that really one person could have done both bombs, could have set timers to go off more of less simultaneously and then, you know, you have a short variance of 15 or 20 seconds. So, it means that it didn't require multiple -- it didn't require multiple people to carry out the attack but it may have a couple of people involved in it. Secondly, if that's true that a pressure cooker was used for the explosive to be placed inside, that would actually diminish the power of the bomb. Now, it itself could become shrapnel. But usually when you take a bomb, if you contain it in something like that, it will tend to smoother it slightly and would actually reduce the power. And we've seen -- I've been to bombings where there was some type of material wrapped around it that in essence became a containment in and of itself.

You know, when the police bomb squad detonate a suspicious package, they're essentially using an oversized pressure cooker to do it. Also, explosives that I saw in Iraq where they try to put them inside cement trucks, the big bowl of a cement mixer, for example, that mixer ended up reducing the amount of power of it. So, that could account for 170 wounded instead of 170 dead.

BURNETT: All right. And, Tom, just a quick follow on that. What is your feeling right now as to, you know, the fundamental question, domestic or foreign? There's been some reporting that that Al Qaeda linked magazine called "Inspire" had techniques where it shows you how to make a bomb that might have matched how this was done. There's been other reporting that would indicate anybody could have figured something out like this given that it was relatively crudely constructed. Anything that you've heard -- has anything that you've heard given you an indication of domestic versus foreign, inspiration or origination?

FUENTES: OK. Personally, from the very beginning, I tended to lean towards domestic. I have been at international bombings overseas on several occasions --

BURNETT: Yes.

FUENTES: -- running the investigation. I have been in the U.S. also running them. And what you have here is that if your -- if your expertise is on Middle East terrorism, let's say, then every bombing tends to look like that. It has hallmarks of Middle East terrorism. If your expertise is domestic, then they tend to look like domestic. To me, from the beginning, it's had the hallmarks of both and neither. And that's been kind of the issue. You don't have a group claiming credit like you would expect with an overseas based or sympathetic jihadist.

But, on the other hand, the material being used, especially roofing nails or carpenter nails used, that's exactly how the Atlanta 1996 Centennial Park bombing was put together. That was a pipe bomb with food container with nails in it and one of the nails struck a woman and killed her, and that was used as similar shrapnel to what we have in -- what it sounds like we have in this device based on the doctors reporting.

So, it could be both. It still could be both. One of the things from the investigators' standpoint is they do not want to jump to a conclusion too soon because you might overlook another factor, another lead that contradicts your theory. They have to be very open-minded, very objective and pursue every possibility. BURNETT: Right. Not get it in your head it's one thing and then look for things that affirm that. All right, thank you very much (INAUDIBLE.)

FUENTES: Exactly because -- also I'd like to add on that. What happens is that from an investigator is that you would be subconsciously trying to prove yourself right.

BURNETT: Right. And we know what happens with that, obviously prior examples of that mistake. Tom Fuentes, thank you very much.

FUENTES: We do. You're welcome.

CUOMO: And, Erin, obviously, we're still in the questions phase. That's why investigators are asking anyone if they have video or pictures or know someone who does, please seek out the help lines, give them the information so they can piece things together. But here is what we know for sure. Yesterday was about resilience. It was about first responders and witnesses turning in the face of danger, helping one another and stopping what could have been a much greater loss of life. When we come back, you will hear from the people who made a difference in the Boston marathon attack yesterday.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I made the turn, it was like the first pop, boom, and another one, boom, and another one, boom. It was like one after another. But it was just one big cloud of smoke, --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- white smoke. And then the other one -- one after the other, after the other. It is -- it is crazy.

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DR. ALLAN PANTER, WITNESS: I saw at least six or seven people down next to me. They protected me from the blast. One lady expired. One gentlemen lost both limbs, his lower extremities. Most of the injuries were lower extremities.

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BURNETT: No question about it, this is a big story around the world. Hometown papers have published front pages that will go down in history, especially in Boston. This is how "The Boston Globe" covered the story, with a captivating photo of the scene and you can see just the font size with the words "Marathon Terror." "Boston Herald" played it this way, headline "Terror at the Finish Line."

Chris, that's just the sense of the shock and the horror that they felt in that town.

CUOMO: Absolutely, Erin. But also important to note the response. That has become the metaphor for the Boston Marathon attacks how the people on the ground responded to it. They couldn't control what happened to them but they could control their response. No question on the triage on the ground, follow-up at medical centers made the situation much different than it could have been. This is echoed by what we've been hearing from the White House.

First of all, this investigation is federal, it's done from the top- down, every law enforcement agency that is under the federal ages (ph) has been involved in this looking for who did, and why. The tone from the White House as well from the president himself has been to be calm and somewhat ignoring of who did this and why and resolved in finding out who they are, bringing them to justice and show that America overcomes. Take a listen.

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OBAMA: The American people refuse to be terrorized because what the world saw yesterday, the aftermath of the explosions were stories of heroism, and kindness, and generosity, and love. Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood, those who stayed to tend to the wounded, some tearing off own clothes to make tourniquets. The first responders who ran into the chaos to save lives, the men and women who are still treating the wounded at some of the best hospitals in the world.

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CUOMO: They're (ph) using the word and phrase "act of terror" may seem like a no-brainer to many of you. However, the word means something, ti means something politically, it means something legally, the aspect of being terrorized. It gets complicated. We're seeing it play out here in real time.

Let's bring in chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin. Jessica, the first 20 hours, the White House, federal agents were hesitant to call this terrorism. Now we see a little bit of a shift. What's going on?

JESSICA YELLIN, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Chris, you're exactly right. And the president was giving it more time and with more time he had more information and so he, today, was comfortable calling this a terrorist investigation because 20 hours after the attack he was comfortable that that's where this was headed. Now three hours after the attack when he spoke yesterday, they simply felt they didn't have enough information, the president did not want to get ahead of the facts.

So you see enormous amount of caution from the White House and words they're choosing because over time in the first term of the presidency there were instances where the White House was burned because either the president waited too long to speak after acts of terror in the country or they did come out and speak and gave bad information and so they've sort of tried to struggle to find the right balance here. So I think that's why you saw the president speak so cautiously yesterday and then lean into it much more heavily today, because the FBI had clearly determined that this was an act of terrorism by the time he spoke.

I will point out, in addition, quickly Chris, that he called it -- they're determining whether it was a malevolent act leaving open the possibility this could, maybe be the act of a lone wolf person simply mentally unstable. I will tell you finally here in the White House they're describing the mood inside as very organized, very deliberate. The new White House chief of staff used to run the national security events and is a very methodical person. It's sort of -- they know how to respond in crisis and the mood here is sort of calm and determined. Chris?

CUOMO: At the end of the day, the motive for the attack is secondary, obviously identifying who did it, bringing them to justice, as the primary goal. No ambivalence there. All of the assets on the ground, seeing and hearing them all day, that's very definitive. Jessica Yellin, thank you for the insight. We'll be back to you Erin, to you in the studio.

BURNETT: All right. And the explosions hit yards from the finish line, as you know, as people were coming over for that moment of victory and achievement and accomplishment. We'll talk to one runner who finished minutes before the bombs went off.

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JULIE JESKE, BOSTON MARATHON RUNNER AND WITNESS: All of a sudden I heard a loud boom, and everyone's head turned and we heard another boom right away. By the time we turned our heads you can see the smoke billowing above the building.

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CUOMO: For so many the Boston Marathon is the culmination of the best of all things, a chance to test themselves, to come together in city- wide celebration for Patriots Day. It literally is just family and fun and that sense of expectation. Yesterday it all turned so wrong. As we learn more stories about how people experienced these attacks and how they responded, we understand how resilient the people involved from all over the country, not just Boston, were. Example, Julie Jeske, North Dakota. She came here, she's an elite runner, she finished before the explosion yet had to live through this and became part of a community that is literally like home. Listen to Julie Jeske's story.

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

CUOMO: What was your head telling you it is?

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

CUOMO: Now, 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 is 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 gentlemen who told me it's probably a bomb, his spouse must have been behind me, he said grab your stuff, we need to get out of here. We all kind of 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 that point. Within a matter of two to three minutes the buses, there was a lot of people lined up waiting to get their bags. I felt bad for the people that were in buses, I think they were getting a little flustered.

One of the women next to me they couldn't find her bag. And she kept saying my husband and my child are at the finish line, my husband and my child are at the finish line and I don't have a cell phone. And I said, oh don't worry I've got a cell phone in my bag. So they found my bag, I pulled my cell phone out but by that time they had knocked down all of the towers and so we weren't able to reach her.

CUOMO: People became family in a moment, right? 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, I said I know your family's going to be fine. I had her husband's cell phone number because we had tried to reach him, but the call didn't go through. Last night I sent her a text, and I just said I've been praying for your family, I hope they're safe. She texted me back and said they're just fine.

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CUOMO: From runners helping other runners reconnect with family to medical staff here to treat dehydration and simple things, becoming trauma experts in a moment and literally saving lives. The more stories we hear, Erin, the more this story becomes about the resolve of people here in Boston.

BURNETT: You don't know how you react in those situations and people react with such heroism. As our coverage of the Boston bombing continues, I want to make sure that you all are aware of some other big stories that we are watching right now.

First this one, a powerful earthquake, a very big one has hit southern Iran near the border of Pakistan. Six people are reported dead, but Iranian state media report that several people may have been killed in Iran. It's very unclear at this point. The numbers could get significantly higher than that. That part of the world, very difficult to get immediate answers. The 7.8 magnitude quake hit an area where not a lot of people live we understand. Felt 500 miles away in Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates where buildings shook for 40 seconds or more. We don't know the amount of the damage.

Back here at home immigration debate front and center on Capitol Hill. Already some have weighed on it in the light of what's happened in Boston even though no one has any idea whether it was a foreign national or American involved. A bipartisan group of senators called the gang of eight is still pushing its new proposal to reform immigration rules. They were set to formally release the plan today but it was postponed due to Boston. Among other things, the bill calls for a 13-year path to citizenship for people who entered the United States before last year.