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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Investigations Continues into Boston Marathon Bombings; Poisonous Substance Likely Found in Letter to Congressman

Aired April 17, 2013 - 07:00   ET

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


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, everyone. I'm Chris Cuomo.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman. We are live in Boston this morning. Our "Starting Point," chilling new pictures of the explosive devices used in the Boston marathon bombings. We have learned the attacker or the attackers made one of the bombs in a pressure cooker likely packed with nails, packed with BBs, ball bearings. We have new information on the second bomb, as well. We will have the latest in just moments.

CUOMO: This morning, we are also learning more about the three victims killed in the terror attack. One mother shares her grief.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was a wonderful person. Everybody that knew her loved her.

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CUOMO: The stories will break your heart but also teach you more about who was lost.

BERMAN: Then, as thousands and thousands come together in a candlelight vigil, New York Yankee fans put the rivalry aside, and they honor Boston in song.

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(MUSIC PLAYING)

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BERMAN: Such a wonderful sight. It is Wednesday, April 17th, our special edition of STARTING POINT the Boston bombings, begins right now.

CUOMO: First up, of course, the latest developments here in Boston. What do we know about who may have done this and why? The latest clue, newly released photos showing the remnants of one of the detonated devices. What do they show? Wires, batteries, what appears to be a circuit board used in detonation.

Reuters says a government official who didn't want to be identified turned over these pictures along with images of a mangled pressure cooker. What does it mean? How would it have been used? We'll take you through all of it. You can see what appears to be a cluster of bb's or pellets likely melted together by the heat of the explosion. We now know, John, a second bomb, also in a metal container, although investigators aren't saying what kind yet.

BERMAN: And each picture you're looking at here, another clue for investigators to pore over. You can bet they're doing that right now.

We're also learning more this morning about the third person killed in this attack. It was a Chinese graduate student who was studying at Boston University, one of the wonderful colleges in this town. We are going to respect the family's wishes. We are not releasing her name. The two other people who lost their lives we now know, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell. What a life she had. So much love from her entire family. And also, Martin Richard, young boy just eight-years-old. A candlelight vigil held last night in his honor, people packing a park in his Dorchester neighborhood.

As for the injured, some good news to tell you about this morning. At least 100 of the 183 people taken to the hospital, they have now been released. We are --

CUOMO: We're hearing President Obama set to visit Boston tomorrow just to make everybody understand how big this is to the country. There will be an interfaith service when he gets here. We're tracking this entire story for you live in Boston, looking at who was lost, but also the important steps toward finding who did this and why.

Let's bring in national correspondent Susan Candiotti joining us here in Boston with the latest. Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Because of these photos, we are now getting a close-up look at what a killer or killers used to kill and to maim innocent people.

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CANDIOTTI: Crime scene photos show part of what could be a pressure cooker used in the bombings. Others show charred wire, attached to a battery, what appears to be a small circuit board, a half-inch nail. And a blood-stained zipper pull tab. Another shows what looks like a massive ball bearing bb's intended as deadly shrapnel.

Investigators are also combing through hundreds of photos from the scene, including this one, where a light-colored bag sits next to a mailbox. The before and after images capture its proximity to one of the two blast locations. Authorities are scrutinizing every lead. The FBI needs help. After all, someone knows who did it.

RICK DESLAURIERS, FBI AGENT IN CHARGE: The person who did this is someone's friend, neighbor, co-worker, or relative.

CANDIOTTI: Crime scene technicians also found gun powder residue. Gun powder ignited inside the metal container, building pressure which caused the container to explode, as an explosive expert explains to Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence.

MIKE BOUCHARD, FORMER ATF OFFICIAL: Of course in a crowd like this, it was so tightly packed with people, those people took the brunt of the explosion, and all the projectiles.

CANDIOTTI: A pressure cooker with part of a homemade bomb inside an SUV that fizzles in Times Square in 2010, planted by admitted lone wolf terrorist Faisal Shahzad, now in prison. In Boston, authorities are convinced they'll solve the case, but as of now have no clue who's behind it.

DESLAURIERS: At this time there are no claims of responsibility. The range of suspects and motives remains wide open.

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CANDIOTTI: And of course these photographs that they're collecting showing evidence they've collected from the blast field also raise so many interesting questions, for example, was there an instruction manual involved? Does this person keep themselves or did someone show them what to do? And again they're asking for the public's help to help solve this matter. What was the motive? Why? Why did they do it? Chris?

CUOMO: That's a good question, Susan. Thank you very much. We'll be back to you soon. Part of this story, who did it and why. The other part, who was lost.

BERMAN: That's right, we are learning more this morning about the three victims who lost their lives in these Boston Marathon bombings, including victim number three, as we told you, a Chinese national studying at Boston University. Some 2,000 people turned out last night for a candlelight vigil, paying tribute to one of the youngest victims. CNN's Pamela Brown is here with that part of the story.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, John and Chris. What a turnout last night. Thousands, as you said, turned out to remember the lives of eight-year-old martin Richard. Also hundreds gathered on the Boston common for a candle light vigil. Throughout the city so many people coming together to pay their respects, and honor the victims of Monday's tragedy.

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BROWN: An outpouring of raw emotion from a community struck by grief. Friends and family of eight-year-old Martin Richard gathered in a park near his home to remember him and pray for his family. His six-year- old sister lost a leg, and his mother has a serious brain injury. On Tuesday friends and relatives dropped off flowers at the family's house in the Dorchester section of Boston. Martin's unforgettable smile has become the face of Monday's senseless attack. His picture celebrating his first communion, and another with a sign that reads "No more hurting people" now emblazoned in the minds of millions.

One of the first responders, Dr. Kim Mills, tried to revive him. Her husband Matt describes the horror his wife ran toward after the blast. MATT MILLS, HUSBAND OF KIM MILLS: She did. She told me that she handed it off to the EMTs, she said, hey, he's dead, and somebody said we need to start CPR. And she said, I don't think it's going to help.

BROWN: Now he says his wife is grappling with the reality of seeing these pictures of Martin.

MILLS: You could see she just got quiet and you could see the tears welling up and all the emotion coming back from yesterday.

BROWN: The second fatality is Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old from Medford, Massachusetts, a suburb to the north of Boston. Krystle was standing along Boylston Street when the explosion went off. Her mother, heartbroken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of daughter was she, ma'am?

PATTY CAMPBELL, MOTHER OF KRYSTLE: She was the best. You couldn't ask for a better --

BROWN: Krystle would have turned 30 on May 3rd.

The third victim, a Chinese national and graduate student of Boston University studying statistics. The injured continue to recover and tell their stories. CNN's Anderson Cooper spoke exclusively to Ron Busard in his hospital room.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Were you knocked to the ground?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wasn't knocked to the ground. I absolutely knew that I was hit with something, because the pain that shot through my leg was -- was incredible.

BROWN: Meanwhile, across the country, tributes to remember those lost, with the Red Sox playing away in Cleveland, the Indians held a moment of silence for the bombing victims. And the New York Yankees put their rivalry aside Tuesday night to pay their respects, posting this message on the Yankee stadium marquee, united we stand. And playing the Fenway Park favorite "Sweet Caroline" in the Bronx.

(SINGING)

BROWN: Back on the streets of Boston an eerie quiet on normally busy streets. For Megan Kieler, returning to the scene after witnessing the explosion brought back overwhelming emotion.

MEGAN KIELER, WITNESSED MARATHON BOMBING: I think it's just kind of hitting me now to be honest. I feel sadly for everybody. I'm really proud of this city. But it's, you know, people are waking up today and their lives are very different.

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BERMAN: Our thanks to Pamela Brown for that. Again, on these streets you saw Pamela talking about today, people getting back to work today, people very much at work. Although behind us is really the crime scene where you see police officers right now. That area still blocked off. Chris, you were there overnight, really, taking a look at the work they're doing.

CUOMO: Early in the morning, I thought it would be quiet over there. Lights are on, people in jumpsuits moving in and out, agency vehicles going. Obviously using that word they use, "frantic."

BERMAN: We want to talk more about this investigation and the developing news overnight. These brand-new photos we're seeing. We're going to bring in Fran Townsend, a senior CNN national security analyst and former assistant to President George W. Bush for homeland security and counterterrorism. Joining us right here on these windy streets, Juliette Kayyem, former U.S. secretary for homeland security and assistant U.S. secretary and a columnist for the "Boston Globe," as well. Thank you both for being here.

I want to look at these photos right away. Let's take a look because they are images that are really, really interesting. The twisted metal of the pressure cooking we're seeing. We're seeing the circuit board which is in there. We're seeing now the bb's clustered together, probably designed to create the most possible harm imaginable. Fran, I want to start with you. You're going to get a chance to look at these photos now with us overnight. What do you see?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know, John, what you see is all the forensics, to me, that investigators will find there. So the twists in the metal all will tell them about the force of the blast. They'll be able to tell what kinds of explosives definitively were used. Were the bombs constructed in the same way?

The circuit board, every one of these small component pieces, regardless of how small it is, every one of them has the ability, some ability, to be traced. And I think people find that surprising. Whether it's a pressure cooker, or a manufacturer for a black nylon bag or a circuit board or wires or even a battery, all of that has potential for investigative leads that will allow the investigators to take that information, put it together with witness interviews, with photographs, with cellphone information, and try to stitch together the narrative and the chronology of what happened that morning.

CUOMO: So, let me bring in Juliette. As part of the solution and also part of the problem, right, the good news is, a bomb like this, unsophisticated, not really a high-level, organized type bomb making. The problem is, if anyone could do it, how do you figure out who it was?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN ANALYST: Well, it is not sophisticated. But it's not easy. And so, there's going to be a pool of people that can qualify to do it. And that's where the investigation is going to go. So when there's a discussion about, did people buy certain things, did you hear a neighbor trying to blow up something, the pool of people who would actually be able to do this and want to do it is relatively small.

And so the investigation, you know, we're looking over here. Boston will be the investigation for the most part. We talk about, you know, this global reach, and that is true depending on who the culprit is. Chances are the bomb like this was made here because transport is very, very difficult. And chances are the person deposited it during the marathon.

So this isn't over for Boston. We knew that. But the investigation is clearly going to be tied to someone who was here, who maybe did a short-term rental who was in one of these hotels. Who probably constructed it here and moved it relatively quickly. You don't put these things in car -- I mean you could but it would be much more risky and you certainly wouldn't put it in an airplane.

CUOMO: Also the objective about it, found the pictures of the bomb, quickly, --

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Obviously we're having some audio problems from Boston this morning. We'll get right back to that and continue with that discussion of the components and what that could tell investigators about who did this in Boston.

I want to turn to another developing story we're following right now, an envelope turned into a possible biological weapon against a U.S. senator. Early tests show a letter sent to Republican Roger Wicker of Mississippi contains the deadly poison ricin. It was intercepted before it got to his office on Capitol Hill. CNN's Shannon Travis is in Washington for us this morning following this story. What can you tell us about the investigation at this point, Shannon?

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, we can tell you that the letter was postmarked Memphis, Tennessee, but there was no return address. That information from sergeant at arms, Senate sergeant at arms Terrance Gainer in an e-mail to senators an aides.

We can also report that experts will perform more tests today to if, without a doubt, the substance on the letter was ricin. We know that a Maryland laboratory confirmed the presence of ricin, but the FBI says field tests can be unreliable. And that only a full analysis at an accredited laboratory can truly determine if the poison was present. The FBI says those tests generally take between 24 to 48 hours.

The Boston Marathon bombing was on Monday, this potentially poisonous letter to Senator Wicker on Tuesday. It's reasonable to wonder are they somehow linked. The chairman of the house homeland committee security committee Congressman Mike McCall, said there's no evidence whatsoever that these two are linked.

ROMANS: Just a coincidence, he thinks?

KAYYEM: He's not saying whether it's a coincidence or not. He's just saying right now that the evidence doesn't support any sign at all that these two things are linked together. So he's not speculating.

ROMANS: All right, Shannon Travis in Washington. Thank you so much. Let's get straight back to Boston now, Chris Cuomo and John Berman are there continuing their conversation. Hi, guys. CUOMO: Thank you, Christine. We're having a little bit of an audio problem here, but we're back. We're going to take a break. When we come back we're going to keep talking to Fran and Juliette, because there's a lot to be learned from these photos that will let us all know which way this investigation is going.

BERMAN: We're also taking a look right now at what people are doing coming together to help the victims here. There are a lot of charity organizations right now, legitimate ones, but there are also some rip- offs. We're going to tell you how to tell the difference.

CUOMO: Also you know that we're following other stories from around the globe. Margaret Thatcher, we're going to look at the farewell to her. We'll bring you live pictures from there as we continue throughout the morning. The funeral just took place. So come back to STARTING POINT in a few.

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BERMAN: Welcome back to our continuing live coverage from Boston, the aftermath of the Boston marathon attacks. We are standing really just a block away from where the investigation is going on right now. Ground zero of this investigation Boylston street right here the finish line of the Boston marathon where investigators have been working around the clock all night. You know, digging through the walls, where they are pulling fragments of these explosive devices still out of the walls.

CUOMO: Photos that really give a great insight as to where they are. They show the bomb. We have Juliette with us. Let's pick up on our conversation. What is the headline that we now know about where this was done?

KAYYEM: I think this is all about Boston. I think given the pictures that we're seeing and the sophistication level of the bomb, it is more likely than not that a person was here for some period of time, or knows Boston, lives here, rented a place, or knows the area, and constructed the bomb here and moved them on the day of, in the black bags, and dropped them during the marathon. So there is a whole bunch of activity in Boston. And so the investigation will focus on who that person was. They may be gone now. And they may have ties to other countries. I'm not saying we know that distinction yet. But Boston was a central place, is going to be a central place of the investigation itself.

BERMAN: I'll pick up with that thought with Fran Rownsend who is still with us, senior CNN analyst. Fran, there's still someone out there. I mean, the FBI is asking for help, asking for people to tell us if they heard anything in the days before this attack. But there is still someone out there who pulled this off. How does that affect the investigation and what are investigators looking at when they're trying to find the person still there?

TOWNSEND: Well, absolutely. And that's why you've heard federal law enforcement officials say they're looking at planes coming in and out of Boston, even as we speak. As the investigation is ongoing. And one of the things we ought to mention is on all of these component parts, investigators will be looking for latent fingerprints. They'll be looking for DNA samples. Because somebody had to touch it to put it together. So it's likely that they will have left some mark on this that will be distinctive to them. So all of this will come together to try and help them to quickly identify. What Juliette says about it being a Boston case is absolutely right. We looked at prior terrorism cases, both successful and unsuccessful cases that have been disrupted, and each time you trace back sort of the perimeter you find that devices are put together in close proximity to where the attack is actually launched. So that's -- investigators understand that and will begin to work from the crime scene outward.

BERMAN: All right, Fran Townsend, Juliette Keyyam, our thanks to you.

CUOMO: Let's get back to Christine Romans in New York right now. She's got other stories we're following from around the world. Christine?

ROMANS: Good morning, again. Happening now, Great Britain says good- bye to the Iron Lady. The former British prime minister received full military honors in a funeral service at St. Paul's Cathedral. Security very tight with more than 4,000 police officers on patrol. CNN's Becky Anderson live for us in London. Good morning, Becky.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you. Divisive in life as she was in death. There were some 4,000 security detail on the streets of London today, as Margaret Thatcher's coffin made its way to here, St. Paul's Cathedral. But very little protest to this funeral. Some two and a half thousand well-wishers inside joined by the Queen, and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip. And the family, of course, of Margaret Thatcher. Carol and Mark, her son and daughter. And Mark's children, Margaret Thatcher's grandchildren, Amanda and Michael, both born and brought up in the states. Amanda reading the first reading, it must have been a very scary thing for her to do but she did it with great aplomb. Behind me now, over my shoulder, the last of the invitees are just leaving. Margaret Thatcher's casket has left it's on its way to the royal hospital in Chelsea. It has been an emotional day for her family, but one that I think well-wishers believe was a fitting funeral for a lady who changed the world, many will say, certainly more so than any other politician. Back to you.

ROMANS: All right, Becky Anderson in London. Thank you.

The U.S. Senate begins voting today on several proposed gun amendments. Among the first bill up for a vote, a bipartisan measure expanding background checks. Recent polls show most Americans support expanding background checks. Few of those amendments are expected to pass.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, bogus charity scams trying to profit off the Boston Marathon tragedy, already popping up. What you should look out for, next, after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. We are live in Boston. John Berman here along with Chris Cuomo. The aftermath of the attacks on the Boston marathon. Really the crime scene is right behind us. We see police there. You see the medical tent there. That is where so many of the victims were treated right after the race. And then just on the other side of that street, still blocked off, a crime scene right now. Boylston street the finish line. Investigators right now going inch by inch on that street trying to find anything and everything they can.

CUOMO: Local authorities say it's the most complex crime scene they've ever dealt with. And that means something here. This is a major city. They do a lot of types of criminal investigations. One of the reasons this tent is up, is because of logistics. The other is there's so much manpower on the ground they need a place to coordinate. Just to give a sense of dimensions, 30 government agencies involved and Boston's finest here, every day, 12-hour shifts. Couldn't be more of an intense effort.

That's the investigative part of what's going on. This story keeps having more and more dimension. People want to come out and help. That 8-year-old boy lost his life, a fund was set up. It was immediately flush with cash because Americans across the country, they're opening their hearts and their wallets to help victims of these Boston bombings. But, you know what that means. Scammers are also out there trying to cash in on all that goodwill. Within hours of the attack, a fake Twitter account was set up claiming to be associated with the marathon. It promised to donate $1 for every retweet. Twitter shut it down. Good move. So, before you donate, remember, stick to charities you know.

BERMAN: That's right. Go somewhere you know. Stick to someone you trust. Check with your state attorney general or the Better Business Bureau. Because, you know, most states require charities to register with a government agency. They know the right ones. Be wary. Be very wary of e-mail solicitations. Be careful with Twitter always.

CUOMO: Use your common sense. See what other people are doing. And yes, the people out there looking for the bad guys, make sure that they get taken down. This is no time to exploit anybody's weakness. We're going to be here all morning. This is part of CNN's continuing coverage, live here from Boston, giving all the different dimensions of what's happening after the attack. The big story, new pictures this morning, the remains of the bombs that detonated only two days ago here in Boston.

BERMAN: We're going to see what investigators are learning as they look at these pictures. As they try to piece everything together. Plus Senator Angus King from the Senate Intelligence Committee. He was briefed on the attacks. He'll tell you what he heard just after the break.

CUOMO: The president, coming here. Got a late-night briefing. He's going to plan to come here, have an interfaith service. We'll also have a live report this morning from the White House. That when this special edition of STARTING POINT, in Boston, continues.