CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Suspect Was Student At University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; Boston Hunting For Bomb Suspect Number Two

Aired April 19, 2013 - 10:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- think anything like that, you know. It's a complete shock. If you ask anyone from my school, they would tell you the same thing. You would never suspect anything from these guys.

Not, you know, the least bit, like, you know, not from Dzhokhar, at least. He's as American as anybody. Hangs out, goes to parties, smokes a little weed here and there, that type of thing. It's not like he's some foreign dude. He's raised here, he's everything over here. He's just as American as I am or anybody else is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the one that we still believe is on the run -- the guy in the white cap?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the guy in the white cap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how long would you -- that's a hard school to get into, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's a high school -- it's the most diverse high school in the United States, second most diverse, highest acceptance rate to Harvard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said they were from where?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're from Chechnya. They speak Russian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So they're from Chechnya. How long would you say they've been in the U.S.? They were from there, so --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six or seven years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six or seven years?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, so, again, high school Cambridge, ranch and Latin. Went there with him back in -- he said he graduated 2006 or 2007 the older brother, the younger brother graduated in 2011. Those are the pieces that we have been able to put together so far -- Erin and Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Appreciate it, Don. Thank you.

I just got a note from someone close to the investigation who says there were operative theory right now about why this randomness last night. It could have been putting the photos and video out to the public.

These two young men may have felt like the pictures were too good. They were identifiable. They got nervous and they started to do things. And you know what? A loss of life is a terrible thing.

But it may well have forced their hand and put them into a situation when just a few days after the attack, they have the men who did it.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know what? When you talk about that, law enforcement, everyone had a really difficult choice to make. Two days ago, they were going to press conference and they kept putting it off and putting off and they decided not to have it.

They were debating then what to do, should they be putting this video out? They made a decision to do it, a calculated risk. We're not going to put the names out. They may not have known them at the time.

But this is when they thought the public could help and it seems it worked. And that was a risk. They had to really decide what to do. When you think about what was at stake with that decision, but they made the right decision.

CUOMO: But this is a little bit of unknown territory. We haven't really dealt with a lot of this, a very fluid situation. Still, we have reporters all over campus and we're trying to piece it together as it goes along without revealing too much that the authorities are asking us to stay away from.

Let's go to Brooke Baldwin. She's got somebody who has been evacuated, talking to them now -- Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Chris, before I even introduce you to this young couple, let me just tell you that there has been a little bit of activity in the last couple of minutes here in Cambridge.

So again, just to set the scene, these two young men, the suspects, live about a block away. We have just seen a big, white van with bomb squad written on the side turning down to Norfolk Street where these two people had an apartment, apparently.

Some of the police are now trying to clear this road out. You can see -- I don't know if you can see it, there's actually an ambulance in the middle of the road. It doesn't look like anyone has gotten in.

But police out and about here. We're zooming out so you can try to see. In the meantime, I have Neil and Bridget Scullion on Norfolk Street and they live just down the street. So you awoke to what a knock on the door?

BRIDGET SCULLION, EVACUATED: Well, we awoke to the news on the television. And then about an hour ago, I guess, the police came and knocked on our door and told us it was time to evacuate.

BALDWIN: Can you specifically -- what did the police tell you guys now?

NEIL SCULLION, EVACUATED: Get out of the house. No, they said we need you to leave your house. That's all they said.

BALDWIN: And so, in a matter of minutes, you scooped up your dog and this little one and left. Do you have any guidance as far as how long you have to be out? What's going on?

BRIDGET SCULLION: No. There's been no further information. Just that we were to leave and when we walked out of the house, we were asked which way to go and told to come down this way. And you saw, as well, that white bomb squad van. Tell me precisely what you saw.

NEIL SCULLION: Well, they came up this street here and it was backing down the other end of Norfolk Street.

BALDWIN: I'm going to let you guys go. I'm sorry, little guy. This is not very fun to be kicked out of your little apartment. So we're going to stay here and hang tight, Chris, and see what's going on. See if we see any more activity with the bomb squad and if any cars start coming through here, which it sounds like they may, come back to us and we'll let you know what we see.

CUOMO: All right, Brooke, thank you very much. I want to go to the phone line right now. Larry Aaronson, Larry, can you hear me?

LARRY AARONSON, NEIGHBOR OF YOUNGER SUSPECT (via telephone): Yes, I can. Can you hear me?

CUOMO: All right, Larry -- I can hear you very well. Thank you for joining us and taking this opportunity. You live near the suspect that's being pursued right now by authorities here. What can you tell us about him? How recently did you speak to him? What's your take?

AARONSON: Well, it's -- it's more than a neighbor. I'm a retired teacher from the high school where he graduated from and I work part time as a photographer at the high school and I photographed them extensively as a wrestler on the wrestling team, as I do many other kids.

And so I got to know him. And there is nothing in his character, in his demeanor that would suggest anything remotely capable of any of these things that are now he's suspected of doing. I mean, he couldn't have been --

CUOMO: Larry? Larry?

AARONSON: Yes.

CUOMO: Larry, can you hear me? Let's take a half of step back. Given what he's accused of and what he's admitted to himself, he has some character flaws to be gentle about it. Why do you believe his character seemed unassailable when you knew him? AARONSON: Why do I think? I have no idea.

CUOMO: No, why do you think that he had good character? What was it about his character that you thought made him a solid person?

AARONSON: Well, you know, let me just say this, you know. I learned that -- from him, that he was Chechen because I asked him what was the origin of his name, you know, he said Chechen. I said how did you survive and so forth and so on. He said you just bear down. You do what you've got to do. He was so grateful to be here.

He was so grateful to be at the school. He was so grateful to be accepted. He really was compassionate. He was jovial. It was nothing like this at all. He was forthcoming. He was a lovely, lovely kid.

This is, you know, people are -- you get people that say I know him. He's not capable of this. That's what I'm saying to you. I am just one of those people -- I'm not trying to protect or cover up. This is what I know him to be, you know.

He was a wonderful kid. We're proud of him. You know, he was an outstanding athlete. He was -- there was nothing -- you know, he was never a troublemaker in the school. He was never in trouble in this school, you know. He was just joyful --

CUOMO: Larry, when is the last full-time you spoke to him? When was the last time you spoke to him? And what was going on in his life?

AARONSON: The last time I spoke to him, he was walking up the street and I think he was going back to school. He was on a semester break or something like that. And I said, I forgot you live right next to me. I forgot all about that, you know. And he said, yes, yes.

And I said which one of these places is yours? And he pointed out to me. And I said where are you now and he said he was going to -- he was in school. I can't remember where he told me, he was going to school. And I said Dzhokhar, are you wrestling? He said no, I'm not wrestling. I'm sort of giving up and bearing down on my studies.

BURNETT: And was that this spring? Or was that, when you say -- was it this year?

AARONSON: No, no, no. It was this year. It was like sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm trying to think. I don't remember, but it was this year, right. And I -- it could have been even more recently because he said he was on, what I remember, is he said he was on his break.

He was going back to school, right. And I think he said he was getting in his brother's car and going. So he was happy to share this. Excuse me, me phone is ringing off the hook, as you can imagine.

CUOMO: You know, look. There's a lot of desperation to understand. Yes, I hear, there's a lot of desperation. Thank you for the window of insight into this young man. I appreciate you taking the opportunity to talk to CNN.

BURNETT: Again, these are individual people with individual impressions based on very, very small slices of someone's life. But, very interesting that he talked to him within just the past few months and he's giving the impression of this young man, which matches the impression from others a year or two back.

Again, doing casually, neighbor, as I said, small slice of life, but it matches what we've seen before and we said when could he have been radicalized or completely compartmentalized for his life.

CUOMO: All right, let me -- you know want, I wish we could answer your question, but we both know I can. We've got Tom Fuentes here. Tom, you've seen so many of these scenarios. Everybody is saying he was a sweet kid. He was doing all of the right things. He was grateful to be here, grateful to have gotten away from the war. How do you reconcile that with someone who wound up where he is right now?

TOM FUENTES, CNN ANALYST: I don't think you can, Chris. I think the people that you're talking to on the air seem to be completely honest and sincere about what they saw or what their relationship was with him. That he had that personality.

And suddenly, somewhere along the line, it changes. And, as I said, I don't know if maybe the big brother was the one that finally led him astray and the last person you talked to on the phone says after they left, he got in the car with his big brother.

And this was just a couple months ago. So maybe somehow, the brother was able to influence him and he just had the kind of personality that made him weak and susceptible to whatever the brother had to do and he went along with it. Although, the demeanor that he had in those --

BURNETT: Tom, I just wanted to ask you, when we talked to someone who talked to him just a few months ago and such experience profiling people and how they can handle these situations. Is it possible that someone could appear as a very normal person in all respects as it could be defined by people in this area and yet completely compartmentalize some sort of radicalization?

FUENTES: It happens. I mean, we've seen this in many other cases. Now, you know, many times we get the report, you know, the person was reclusive or weird or something wrong with them. But there are many times when neighbors or even family members say no, he seemed perfectly fine.

He seemed great. I don't know what happened. I don't know what tripped him or you don't know if he was already like that in his inner thoughts and it just hadn't manifested himself in front of other people where he was trying to get along.

BURNETT: All right, Tom Fuentes, thank you.

CUOMO: We're going to bring someone else in now. Let's bring in Phil Mudd. We'll be back to you, Tom. We'll be back in a second. Let's bring Phil Mudd with us right now to help us get a little bit of idea. He is a counter terrorism background. Phil, let me ask you something. We're dealing with this paradox right now. We have seen it in other cases.

Everybody is saying good things about this person. Not defending the suspect, but just saying as I knew him, good character, great athlete and then he winds up here, the worst of character. He is guilty of the things that he has admitted to this hostage. How do we put the two together?

PHIL MUDD, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: There's not a paradox here. This is a tradition in terrorism. Looking for example at 9/11 or the July attacks in London. You don't have particularly selves in the world I follow. That's what you see on TV.

You have clusters of kids who bounce off of each other. In this case, you have two kids who happened to be brothers and I suspect were in a close circle where over probably or perhaps a relatively short period of time, they persuaded each other that what happened in this closed circle was right.

Now one more thing, one of these kids is 26 the other is 19. In the cases that I've looked at, you often have an older brother figure even outside the family who will persuade a youth to go into the movement. I wager here that the older brother told the younger brother what we're going to do is OK.

CUOMO: But how is that consistent with character? That's the part we have to get people to understand, including one of the two, at least. How can you be a good person and a terrible person at the same time? Is the gap fill in that in your head what you believe to be right and wrong?

MUDD: What you're doing is what we call an analysis mirror imaging. You're assuming the world looks like what you think it should look. What they're coming from is the world where some people will say the United States is intervening in places they shouldn't intervene.

They've raped women. They've killed children. From their optic, this is perfectly logical. So it's not inconsistent with being a good person. They would say our responsibility is not just to talk about this. It's to do something about this and they did.

BURNETT: You know, Phil, I'm just looking here. We're going to be joined by another friend of Dzhokhar in just a moment. He is going to talk about a conversation he had. I'm trying to pull up the exact words here on my Blackberry, but a conversation that they had about terrorism where, again, he's going to say completely normal in all respects. But a conversation where it's not wrong, there's something right about it. And maybe that was referring to some sort of fundamental belief in the cause or what it said.

MUDD: I think that's -- there are simple justifications among the people I chased for 20 years. And that is they will say, look, I've seen images from places like Gaza, Afghanistan or Iraq where women are raped and children are killed. So I can either talk about it or do something about it.

The most important thing we followed was not necessarily large cells of people who would commit acts of terrorism. It was people who were in large clusters talking about Iraq and who would then break away and say everybody else is talking. I'm going to do something about it.

CUOMO: Phil, thank you very much. We'll come back when we have some more details to fill in. You can give us some contacts. Thanks for being on with us. Look, right now, you just don't know. It's part of the frustration of covering this, part of the frustration of dealing with it at home.

Some good news, some good things to keep in mind here. There's tremendous manpower on the ground here in Boston. The reason they're locking down the city is for safety. It's not for a sense of disadvantage. They have tons of manpower. They have been closing the circle on this individual. They have to be very careful because of the role of explosives in this situation.

BURNETT: They don't want to have a mistake. When you get to the end of this, they don't want to have a mistake. They don't have any other lives lost. The president is being briefed right now on what's happening.

Brianna Keilar is at the White House right now. Brianna, who is there and what's your understanding of what they are briefing him on?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This is a briefing, Erin and Chris, on the situation in Boston and Watertown, according to a White House official. It's taking place as we speak. So this is currently under way. It's taking place in the situation room so, obviously, a very high level of security.

Some of participants are there in person, most of them are, some of them are there on video conference, a rather large group of officials from the White House in the administration including Attorney General Eric Holder and the FBI Director Robert Mueller.

We knew they were there in addition, the president's Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism Advisor, Lisa Monaco. You have a number of other national security staff, his national security advisor, Tom Donilon.

His Chief of Staff Dennis McDonaugh and participating as well, this is something we didn't know by video conference includes the Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano, Secretary of State John Kerry and his CIA Director John Brennan.

So a rather packed house for this meeting currently under way in the situation room on the situation in Boston and Watertown, Massachusetts. You guys, you know that he's been briefed overnight, over the last night, by his Homeland Security Advisor, Lisa Monaco, being kept up to date on this evolving situation.

This has been the case all week that he's been briefed throughout the evenings and frequently in the morning with his FBI director and the attorney general, but this is obviously an expanded group during this evolving situation.

We're still waiting to see exactly how the White House and the administration is going to be responding to this. Obviously right now, the FBI is very much in control of things. I think we're not going to see any substantive reaction to what's going there in Boston and Watertown until it comes to more of a conclusion and the dust settles in what's really this currently evolving, very quick situation.

CUOMO: We're going to reset here, in case you're joining us right now. There's been a massive turn in the investigation here in Boston. I'm Chris Cuomo joined by Erin Burnett here. We've been covering this since late last night. Here is what we know.

A remarkable series of developments in the search for the terrorists behind the Boston marathon bombings, right now, a massive manhunt is under way for this suspect. He's a 19-year-old man and authorities are circling in on him. If you are in Boston, you're cautioned to stay at home.

Contact police if you see this man. They say he's on the run, extremely dangerous and may have explosives. Overnight, his brother was killed in a shootout with police. Both men are Muslim and from Southern Russia.

At this point, we have no reason to believe that their religion has anything to do with intentionality. It's just detail provided by investigators keep that in mind. The manhunt is going on in and around Boston. The intensity and sheer scale is unlike anything this nation has ever seen before.

The entire city of Boston and its suburbs is shut down this morning for safety reasons. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the governor has immediately suspended all public transportation service on the MTBA system. So all public transit services through the MBTA have been immediately suspended.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, right now, the search has centered around the town of Watertown. We're not showing a live picture of that because we've been asked by authorities not to reveal tactical positions. But it has been treated like a combat zone.

The National Guard is mobilized. Thousands of heavily armed police are going door-to-door searching for the fugitive. Maybe most remarkable buses have been brought in to evacuate people, to keep a safe perimeter. That's the urgency to which this is being done.

On the left of your screen, you will see Watertown, where the search is now focused. If you look to the right, that's where this rapid fire chain of events began. The campus of MIT, just across the river from the site of Monday's bombing. Overnight, a university police officer was killed and a motorist carjack. That's what started all of this.

We had no idea to believe it would be the suspects from the marathon bombing. Police say when they chased this Mercedes SUV, the suspects opened fire even threw improvised explosive devices at them, homemade grenades. Take a listen to the shootout.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thought we heard fire crackers. Me and my son looked out our third floor window. We heard gunshots and then we saw the explosion. I actually saw a black SUV come down Laurel Street, cross over Dexter. It looked like it hit a police car and then they were just shooting at that and just loaded with that. We must have heard about 60 gunshots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was that explosion like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was pretty loud. It shook our house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Obviously, that is an impression for somebody who has witnessed -- the suspect on the left, if you're able to see him. He was killed in the shootout. Sources tell us he apparently had explosives strapped to him and somehow may have detonated.

Sources warn that the man on the right is rigged with similar explosive. That's why there's such an abundance of caution going on right now. This is the latest reporting that we have on this. It's continuing. We'll tell you what we can when we know it.

BURNETT: I want to bring in Eric Machado now. Eric, you were a friend of the younger suspect, Dzhokhar. You seem to know a lot about him and have known him very well. So begin first by telling us when you knew him.

ERIC MACHADO, WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH SUSPECT NUMBER TWO: I knew him in high school.

BURNETT: You graduated a year ago?

MACHADO: I graduated in 2010.

BURNETT: So he was a year younger.

MACHADO: A year younger, so he graduated in 2011. The grades were a mess. We went back and forth and parties and normal things that teenagers would partake in. That's kind of how I got to know Dzhokhar.

BURNETT: And you knew him pretty well? You've seen him a lot?

MACHADO: Yes, in high school. I won't say I've seen him recently. Probably the last time I saw him was in the last year or so.

BURNETT: OK. So you said that you had a conversation. I want to talk a little bit more about what you did together, but also, one conversation where you recall terrorism came up.

MACHADO: Right, it wasn't me, per se, who had the conversation. But it was a friend of mine who called this morning had alerted me to a conversation that he had had with Dzhokhar.

And it was along the lines of, you know, terrorism is, when justified, you know, isn't necessarily, you know, a bad thing. Which, you know, kind of red flags in your head, OK, if he's having those kind of conversations and the events that have, you know, since happened, it would lead you to believe that something in his head is, you know --

CUOMO: He's having a conversation in his head that terrorism isn't a bad thing?

MACHADO: Right, when justified. Not anything that, you know, would lead me to believe that he would believe it's OK. I can't really say. I just know that that was a conversation that was had.

And in that conversation, you know, obviously, you know, my friends were kind of alerted, like, well, you know. And people say, you know, things all of the time. And it's never -- you don't take it out of context, it is a conversation at the time. And you don't believe anybody is going to be a terrorist because of those comments.

BURNETT: So in the past day, when you and your friends started watching television and you saw that picture on the screen, did friends call the FBI? Did you say I know that guy? How did you all figure out that it's the guy that you know?

MACHADO: Well, I mean, the name -- the name, itself, when given, it confirmed it for us. The hat was a signature, turned backwards on his head, always.

BURNETT: So you saw the video before the name came out and the baseball cap being backwards you said that looks like --

MACHADO: It was kind of a joke amongst friends. That's Dzhokhar.

BURNETT: But you didn't believe it was.

MACHADO: Right. No one wants to believe that their friend from high school is, quote/unquote, a "terrorist" or is a terrorist. Nobody wants to believe that kind of thing.

CUOMO: I appreciate the information.

BURNETT: Yes, we appreciate you taking the time. It's obviously not easy when you knew someone to imagine this. But thank you.

CUOMO: We're going to get back to this developing situation. Let's go Deb Feyerick. She is one of the reporters out in the field. She has been seeing police activity. Deb, what's the latest?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we saw so much activity going on early this morning. More than a thousand members of law enforcement who were here. They were focused on the home just a block from me. They had people on top of the roof. They had people who were staging the entire area.

Everybody was dressed in tactical gear, SWAT gear as they approached that building. We're still waiting for word on what specifically was inside. A number of canines were brought in, as well. The law enforcement pulled out and now what's going on is that we saw some friends of teens pull in.

So they're in that facility, in the building, in the home. We believe it's just in front of what looks like a garage, an automotive garage, there's a little sign up there. They're inside that home now and they are looking for clues or possible evidence.

So this is unfolding very, very quickly. We do know that the older brother, the 26-year-old, he was found to be wearing some sort of explosives. He had some sort of a trigger on him, as well. You have to keep in mind that he was killed, once he was dead, investigators stripped him in place.

You don't want to bring a person to the hospital if that person is wearing what appears to be some sort of explosive device. They're still looking for the 19-year-old, the one in the white hat. They believe he is in this area.

They are not a 100 percent sure, but they do believe they're getting closer. This is moving very, very quickly. They're reaching out. Investigators are, to friends, to associates, to other people who are coming on the radar who this young man may have had contact with over the last couple of weeks or over the last couple of months.

It's very likely that we're going to see more activity throughout the course of the day as investigators make their way following leads and trying to figure out exactly who is who and where this person is -- Chris.

BURNETT: Thank you very much, Deb. We appreciate it.

CUOMO: All right, we're going to take a break now. We're going to put up on the screen the man police are looking for. If you see this face, do nothing yourself alert authorities.

And if you are watching, police believe the suspect may, if you have any decency that your friends described back when they knew you, it's time to turn yourself in. We'll be back after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: And our coverage continues of the manhunt for suspect number two, a 19-year-old young man. The manhunt is on going here in Boston. As we said, a lockdown of a city like anything ever seen before in this country. I want to get the very latest on the intelligence of where he is and exactly what police and authorities are looking for. Barbara Starr has that. She has been doing reporting --