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News Conference on D.A. Killings; Eric Williams Held on $23 Million Bond; Texas Blast Relief Effort; FBI Update on Boston Bombings, 5PM ET; Boston Responder Haunted By Victim; More Than 160 Injured in Texas Blast
Aired April 18, 2013 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Jake Tapper here with Erin Burnett in Boston. We're going to go now to Kaufman County, Texas, where there's a news conference about the murders of the Texas prosecutors and the wife of one of those prosecutors. Let's listen in.
CHIEF KIRBY DENBY, TEXAS RANGERS: My name's Kirby Denby. I'm the chief of the Texas Rangers. Colonel Steve McCaul sends his regrets. He's tied up with the tragedy in West at this time, but he asked that I convey the message that law enforcement and the state of Texas takes all the assaults seriously upon its citizens most especially those that result in death.
The murder of a public official such as a judge, a prosecutor, or a law enforcement officer is an assault against all citizens of this state, because it's an attack against the rule of law and, therefore, society as a whole.
From the very onset, everyone involved in this criminal investigation has been acutely aware of the vital importance of determining the identity of those responsible for this heinous act.
We at the Texas Department of Public Safety, the divisions involved in this investigation, CID division, as well as Texas Ranger division and elements of the Texas Highway Patrol are very proud of the combined efforts of all the various law enforcement agencies that participated in this investigation and brought it to the successful point it is today most notably, recognizing the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This investigation's success is based upon the timely integration and coordination of the many considerable resources that were brought to bear. Federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel have spent countless hours running down leads, interviewing people, and gathering evidence. We applaud their professionalism, their dedication, and their persistence, thank you.
DIEGO RODRIGUEZ, FBI: Thank you, Chief. Good afternoon. I am the special agent in charge of the FBI Dallas Division, Diego Rodriguez. I'd first like to echo the remarks made by my colleagues.
Our investigative success to date was made possible by the hard work and dedication by many local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies that came together and did not hesitate to commit the resources necessary to examine each and every aspect of this -- of these cases.
The scale of this joint investigation reflects the fact that nothing in our respective jurisdictions was more important than coming together to insure that justice would be served.
Every agency represented here today is to be commended for their diligent efforts in conducting a thorough investigation, all while continuing to keep the residents of Kaufman County safe.
I send my sincere thanks on behalf of the entire Dallas Division to the men and women who work persistently on these cases. I want to specifically recognize the primary investigators of the lead agencies for their tireless effort and exceptional leadership.
For Kaufman County Sheriff's Office, Sgt. Matt Woodall and Lt. Joey Stewart. For the Texas Rangers, Ranger Eric Casper, and for the FBI, Special Agents Laurie Gibbs and Michael Hillman. January 31st --
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: You have just heard from Texas Kaufman County officials that Eric Williams, the former Justice of the Peace has been formally charged with murder. We understand that the bond is $23 million.
I want to bring in Sunny Hostin, our legal analyst. If I may get your reaction to that, obviously this charge was expected that this would happen, but what do you make of it and what do you make of the bond?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): Well, the bond, I expect it to be very high. When a prosecutor is gunned down, any law enforcement officer is gunned down, you know, law enforcement authorities make that the highest priority. So, certainly the high bond was expected.
But I've got to tell you the facts of this case are unlike anything I've seen. It's almost like a Hollywood movie. It's very, very rare that someone murders a prosecutor because many know that prosecutors are almost like, you know, termites.
You kill one, there are so many others prepared to take up the coal, so the fact that Eric Williams is now accused of these heinous murders, it's just so very shocking, Erin. Just because it's something that doesn't typically happen.
Eric Williams is a lawyer, was a Justice of the Peace, which is a judge that handles mostly administrative duties, and obviously, took his conviction after trial by these prosecutors personally. And it's just something that you rarely see.
TAPPER: Sunny, it's Jake Tapper here in Boston. Just following the prosecutors' case and how police have pursued this, obviously, Eric Williams and his wife are presumed innocent, but it seems like when they first charged Eric Williams, the former Justice of the Peace, charged him with a different crime, threatening police officers. They then had him in custody, they separated him and his wife and then they must have worked separately on each one with the two of them separate. I'm asking you to speculate, but is that generally how a case like this -- how evidence would be gathered?
HOSTIN: Absolutely, no question about it. I mean, we know at least I've seen some of the affidavits in this case, and it is clear that - it's classic law enforcement technique. She admitted to being a part of this crime somehow.
Somehow we don't know the extent of her involvement, but certainly what you do as a law enforcement officer is you interview everyone, and if you get someone to turn the evidence, sort of the typical way people think about it, she'll probably be, you know, witness -- be a main witness in this case. So, I suspect that's certainly what happened here.
TAPPER: All right, Sunny, thanks so much. That's news from Kaufman County, where they are charging Eric Williams with the murder of two Texas prosecutors and the wife of one of those prosecutors working in -- being charged in conjunction with his wife.
BURNETT: All right, now back to our other developing story, also out of Texas this afternoon. As many disasters of this magnitude, the Red Cross is on the scene trying to help those displaced by the fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West.
Anita Foster is with the American Red Cross. Anita, I guess, the first question, we know there's still a search and rescue going on here. We know there are people still missing. There are first responders still missing. They are trying to find. How many people have you seen already who need help?
ANITA FOSTER, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Well, we've seen a lot of people that need help, hundreds, because people have varying degrees of need. And it's important that we meet them wherever they are with their need.
Today, just a couple hours ago, we're able to take our first look inside the neighborhood. We couldn't get all the way into the zone because search and rescue is still going on in some areas, but we were able to have a firm understanding of the utter fear that people had to have experienced that they were in their homes when this explosion went off.
So, just without question means that people are going to need care here for a long time to come and we've moved an entire array of services here, mental health counseling, our feeding teams, doing distribution of blankets today, unusual weather for us.
It's 45 degrees and pretty chilly in Texas, and a lot of people still don't have power. So, we're addressing those needs each step of the way to make sure every family gets what they need to help them recover where they are at.
BURNETT: Anita, thank you very much. TAPPER: If you are just joining us right now and you want to help those affected by the Texas explosion, go to CNN's Impact Your World, that's cnn.com/impact.
Up next we'll talk with a chemical expert on just how dangerous the air is right now in that tiny Texas town and in the surrounding area. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: I'm Jake Tapper here in Boston with CNN's continuing coverage of the investigation into the terrorist attacks on the Boston marathon, and we are just learning at this hour that the FBI here in Boston is planning a 5:00 p.m. Eastern news conference with the latest information about the investigation.
That's 5:00 p.m. Eastern, 2:00 p.m. Pacific and that will be the latest on what's going in the investigation into those terrorist attacks that left three killed and dozens injured.
BURNETT: Yesterday, as you all remember, we were waiting and everybody was hoping for an update that there would have been a press conference on whether they had more details on the people they were looking at. That did not happen. Today, this is going to be very important and the big question will be whether they will actually release any video or pictures of the men that they are looking at.
TAPPER: We are told from law enforcement they have photographs or images of two individuals who were there at the marathon site and they've been releasing them among law enforcement officials trying to decide whether or not they should release them to the public.
In general, there's obviously a double-edged sword for that. The public can help, but also it would tip off those perpetrators or alleged perpetrators the fact the law enforcement knows about them.
BURNETT: That will be a crucial thing this afternoon then.
You know, we've been talking about the heroes here and the people who ran to the explosions instead of running away. Brooke Baldwin, I know you had a chance to talk to some firefighters and incredibly poignant and touching experience.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. Yes, we heard the message, it was pervasive through the service, the interfaith service today of hope and heroism, right. I met a hero last night. We heard the mayor, Mayor Menino, talking today about the firefighters, thanking them for breaking through the gates, making a hole, tending to the wounded.
I want to introduce you to a 41-year veteran of the Boston Fire Department. His name is Charlie Buchanan. In his 41 years, this guy never done an interview and he had never experienced a day as the city experienced on Monday. He was feet from the second blast.
He rushed in when others rushed away, and the first body he saw was that of 8-year-old Martin Richard. He realized what was going on. He realized he needed to quickly put a sheet over his body out of respect for this young, tiny boy.
Next to him lay his 6-year-old little sister, her leg gone. This is what he told me about that moment.
CHARLES BUCHANAN JR., BOSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT VETERAN: I saw little girl that another guy grabbed. Her leg was severed, the right leg, and behind her was a little person that had to be this little boy that they talked about and I couldn't do anything for him. His name was Martin and we put a sheet over him just out of respect for him.
BALDWIN: So, you knew --
BUCHANAN: Then we went back to work.
BALDWIN: You knew immediately when you saw that little boy he wasn't going to make it?
BUCHANAN: He was dead. Yes, ma'am. He was dead, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Was that little girl who you saw with part of her leg missing, was she able to talk to you or was she just crying?
BUCHANAN: The little girl that was actually, I believe, a Massachusetts firefighter had her. We stopped an ambulance and the ambulance was full, but we said, you have to take this girl and they were great. They were Boston EMS, and this firefighter said, you know, she needs a -- her leg was as big as my arm.
They put her inside the ambulance, but as you say, the only thing I could see, to this day, her little eyes looking up at me that is it. And me thinking -- thinking about my own grandson, Malachi, and my Malachi is the same age as this young girl, who is 6 years old, who is -- first thing he did was give me a big hug when I went home.
BALDWIN: So, you're thinking of Malachi as you're looking into this little girl's eyes. You describe this day as a bad day, Charlie. You've been doing this for 40 years.
BUCHANAN: Yes, Ma'am.
BALDWIN: Was it the worst day you've ever seen?
BUCHANAN: It's the worst day in my career, yes, it is. You know, I can still see this little girl. I still see the little boy. I know people that know this little boy. He is a Boston resident, all right. He doesn't live far from this fire house.
BALDWIN: And, you know, coming up next hour, there was so much more Charlie and I talked about. He is a Bostonian pround from outside of Dorchester and we'll have his message to Boston, one of healing, unity, and moving on, next hour, Jake Tapper.
TAPPER: Brooke Baldwin, unbelievably moving and sad interview. Thank you so much. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's continuing coverage of the investigation into the terrorist attacks here in Boston, and, of course, the incident in Texas last night with the explosion near Waco.
I want to give you two looks at the blast that rocked that small town in Texas. These go by fairly quickly. Here's the first. It's slow motion then the shot we'll freeze. The second view occurs in realtime. Just watch, enormous power behind that blast that set off seismometers. They registered 2.1.
Joining us now from Atlanta is Doug Mulford, he is a chemistry lecturer at Emory University. Thank you so much for joining us. What is the active material in the fertilizer that makes it so explosive?
DOUG MULFORD, CHEMISTRY LECTURER, EMORY UNIVERSITY: The explosion that you saw was the ammonia burning. Once it got hot enough from the fire that was burning next to it. It set off probably -- it will take several days, but probably the pressurized tanks storing the high- volume ammonia they had on site that they were producing.
TAPPER: Of course, we know that fertilizer is often used in terrorist attacks. It has been in the past although law enforcement authorities say that there's no reason to think this was anything other than an industrial accident. How safely and securely are companies obligated to keep materials like this?
MULFORD: Well, obviously, you have to be very careful with anything like this that has the risk for explosion. There are protocols that people follow and there are things that we know from years of working with these chemicals on how to keep it safe and prevent, hopefully, accidents like this that occur.
Unfortunately, every once in awhile you do get a situation like this where you have a fire in an unrelated part of the plant that spread to the storage tanks and then we see this tremendous explosion that we saw today -- or yesterday.
TAPPER: All right, Doug Mulford, thanks so much for joining us.
BURNETT: Investigators search for clues as to what actually cause the explosion in the town of West, Texas. As Jake said right now, they believe it's an industrial accident, but they don't even know what would have caused it. Survivors are trying to pick up the pieces.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN SMITH, WEST, TEXAS RESIDENT: I was actually picked up and thrown about ten feet. Thank God I went upstairs. Because if I hadn't, the couch that I had been on when I came down, I looked at it, the couch wasn't there. It was right in front of a big bay window and it was shredded from the glass from the bay window. If I'd been on that couch, I'd be dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I'd be dead. That was Kevin Smith. He is alive. He was one that escapes. He joins us now on the phone. Kevin, how are you doing right now?
SMITH (via telephone): I'm doing good, been better, but feel like I got run over by a truck, but other than that, good to be alive.
BURNETT: Good to be alive, just a miracle. I know you must feel in some ways. I want to show pictures, Kevin, of your house, which I know are difficult for you to imagine everyone looking at, but can you tell us how far the damage goes in your home?
SMITH: It is totalled. It's a two-story house and the entire second story is collapsed down on the first story. The first story, all the windows, all the doors, most of the walls are blown out. The second story, the roof and the entire second story is collapsed down on the first and there were huge holes.
BURNETT: You know, we've -- I'm sorry, we've been reporting on how this is still a search and rescue mission, they are trying to account for everybody. Have you accounted for everybody, all of your friends, all of your family, all of your neighbors?
SMITH: I've accounted for most of them. All my family I've accounted for. Got my wife, my dad is still working, helping rescue people, and then my family lives out of town, but there are a few friends that were firefighters that were involved that didn't make it out, and paramedics that I know that I've been friends with for awhile.
BURNETT: So, you do know some of those paramedics and firefighters who did not survive?
SMITH: Yes, ma'am. I do have friends of several of them. I don't know if they've released the names yet, so I'm not going to say them. I'm friends with several of the medics, several of the EMS, breaks my heart.
BURNETT: Well, Kevin, thank you. And, of course, we respect you not saying their names. They are in everyone's thoughts and prayers as we try to find out, as we said here in Boston. They ran to the explosion there in Texas and some of them lost their lives trying to put the flames out. Thank you very much, Kevin. We'll be right back.
BALDWIN: And welcome to CNN top of the hour here. I'm Brooke Baldwin standing alongside John Berman here. This is CNN's special live coverage as several American communities here this afternoon recovering and healing today.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So much going on right here in Boston investigators are working to identify people in pictures taken near the finish line of the marathon just a block and a half behind us right now. This is just before Monday's explosions right here. This comes as President Obama helps this grieving city say goodbye to those who lost their lives.
BALDWIN: We want to begin, we'll get back to Boston, but we want to begin with this small town, population 2,700, West, Texas, and the county that surrounds it. It has now been declared a disaster area this afternoon by Texas Governor Rick Perry.
We heard from him around lunchtime. And that move comes in the wake of what Governor Perry called a nightmare scenario. So, this fertilizer plant fire that resulted in a massive explosion. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't hear! I can't hear!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: As this fertilizer plant continues to smolder right now this afternoon, authorities are not ready to give up on finding survivors trapped in the rubble from that blast. It could be felt 50 miles away.