Return to Transcripts main page
Heavy Police Activity In Watertown; MIT Officer Dead; One Of Two Brothers Dead One On The Loose
Aired April 19, 2013 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And also he said he won't -- he wouldn't go into specifics of the investigation but said it was far from over in this particular neighborhood in the Watertown community, because this is the last place they saw that suspect was here. And -- who came down, quite frankly, Mount Avenue where we are from Cambridge into this particular neighborhood obviously throwing explosives out of the window. And this is the last place they saw him. So, they believe he's here with all the people chasing him. With all the people, all the resources they had behind this person. They don't think he could have gotten far from here.
So, while there are other areas being cleared, there have been huge police presence in one area. We even saw military helicopters. You can probably hear the helicopter in the air now. They're still zeroing in on Watertown, because they believe that is where this 19- year-old suspect is that we found out about. The 19-year-old suspect who is a wrestler who got to college on a scholarship for wrestling. His brother -- older brother who is a boxer, a two-time golden glove champion both ending up in this neighborhood, one of them losing their lives, the other on the loose still. Again, you can hear that helicopter in the air. That is a police helicopter. Also military helicopters here as well. And tactical units being disbursed throughout this area. So, while they're clearing one area, as Deb said, they cleared her area earlier then they came back to the same area. That's what's happening here. Far from over in this particular town.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Don Lemon in Watertown for us where the developments are unfolding rapidly. They're presumably, Don -- I want to be precise on this as well, they're presumably going house-to-house, floor-by-floor with this search? It's a very dangerous operation given the potential for explosive devices to be located there. Is that a good sense of what you're hearing and seeing?
LEMON: Absolutely, and the pictures show it. We have seen it. I've seen it and the pictures show it as well. The bus loads and bus loads of police officers they have brought here, they were -- those were security people to watch the backs of the people who are actually going door to door. Many times the SWAT team or tactical teams would go door to door with their rifle, their assault rifle, they're military style rifles drawn, with their handguns drawn. They open the door, one would watch the other one's back and then they would all file in and go into a particular building. Or they would knock on people's -- individuals homes. And what they were saying, two individuals that that was going to happen. But before you open your door, make sure you knew that it was a police officer that you saw some sort of identification that they were dressed in police clothing.
One scene that we saw earlier this morning, there was a SWAT team there. There was a K9 unit there and there was also a chemist, Wolf, on scene because they found blood at that particular scene and they were -- the chemist was taking samples to bring back to the lab, so they can check to see if it matches blood from any of the other scenes and that -- therefore they can figure out if that suspect was there or his whereabouts, where he might be heading -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A massive manhunt underway in the Watertown area. Chris -- Don Lemon is there. You know, Chris, as we've watched this, we're beginning to learn more and more about these two suspects, especially the younger one, the 19-year-old who's still on the loose.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We heard from the uncle who gave us a really good background on where these guys grew up and the family. And very important to separate them from the family. Say this is not about where we come from. It's not about our faith. These men are a disgrace. This is a shame. The suspect should turn himself in. And very important, in terms of as we continue to pursue motivation here, it is just as likely, at this point, that these two men just decided to become crazed killers as it is that they're connected to any larger ideal.
BLITZER: And we're just learning more. Chris Lawrence is at the campus of the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth where one of the suspects actually had been registered as a student at that school. Campus is closed. There's a controlled evacuation underway. What else are you learning? What are some of his friends, associates, people who may have known him, what are they saying?
LAWRENCE: Wolf, there's been a lot of developments here on campus just in the last 10 to 15 minutes. About 15 or 20 minutes ago, we saw a helicopter land in the middle of the campus in an area that we don't have access to but we can see it flying over the trees and landing somewhere in the interior of the campus. Right after that, I saw about four to five police vehicles speed through the entrance of the campus going to that same location.
And then just within the last two to three minutes, we saw two helicopters take off and leave the campus and head away. We also saw a big Massachusetts state police tactical van arrive here very quickly, sort of an armored very large vehicle that just got on scene about five minutes ago. When I looked at the helicopters, again, they were in the distance. A lot of dust being kicked up. I didn't see any markings that indicates Massachusetts state police, so they may very well be -- belong to the Massachusetts National Guard.
Also here, we've been speaking with a lot of folks who knew Dzhokhar. That's how they know him here, Dzhokhar. In fact, we spoke with a young man who helped move Dzhokhar in to his dorm when he first got to campus. And he was explaining to us how he was de-briefed by the state police and FBI this morning for about five hours. He had tweeted out something -- when he saw some of our broadcasts and saw the picture, he tweeted out I think I may know this person, I think that's Dzhokhar.
And then this morning, he got a knock on the door with police and investigators outside wanting to speak with him. They brought him to a nearby state police barrack, so to speak, and talked to him for about five hours. He said they were asking him, you know, questions about Dzhokhar. If he had communicated with people overseas, that was one of the questions he was asked. He said he couldn't remember that happening. And he just sort of had to explain to them what sort of person he was, what sort of interactions he may have had, trying to give them any insight possible into the suspect they were looking for -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Chris, you're our Pentagon correspondent. And the way you describe it, it almost looks like a major military operation with sophisticated military equipment in addition to local law enforcement. Police equipment on the scene. Give us a few details of the military hardware that you're seeing.
LAWRENCE: Right now, so far, it's been split. And I would say the majority of it has been the Massachusetts state police. The local campus police are sort of doing perimeter security around the campus, you know, as they try to help students get off campus. And a lot of students hanging out outside here trying to get a ride home or have someone come pick them up. But then we saw the helicopter off in the distance and we know -- just sort of trying to look through the buildings and the trees, I know it landed somewhere in the interior of the campus.
And I know that the dorm -- Dzhokhar's dorm is actually over on that other side of campus. I don't know if the helicopters landed near the dorm, but it was definitely on sort of the other side of campus from the entrance where we are and where a lot of the students are coming out. Then we saw that huge tactical vehicle from the Massachusetts state police roll in after about four to five police cars came through. And then literally, like I said, just in the last 10 minutes off in the distance, we saw the two helicopters take off from the campus and fly away -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It's pretty scary scene at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. I'm sure it's the last thing, Erin, that anyone would have thought on that campus that they were going to be seeing this kind of operation unfold on this day.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And the shock they felt on MIT's campus as well last night when there was this shootout that happened. People just -- last night when we were standing here, we had no idea there could be any link between these two things. And it has happened so quickly and unexplained.
BLITZER: Strange turns and it is by no means over.
LAWRENCE: No, not at all. I mean, Erin observed earlier when we were here that most of the vehicles going by us were police and official vehicles. And you have to remember, this is one of the most extraordinary things we've ever seen in terms of terrorism work in the United States of America. BURNETT: Yes.
LAWRENCE: This entire city -- Boston's one of the busiest cities in the world let alone in this country. And it's been shut down in a way systemically we've never done here before. And all because of this main question, where is this 19-year-old suspect who was involved in this hot pursuit? And you have to say, everyone we've talked to agrees about one thing, the progress has been amazing. To think just Monday this happened.
BURNETT: So rapid, yes.
LAWRENCE: And they go through all this video, the possibilities, the permutations were almost endless. They come up with suspects, they announce it to the public. And now here we are, one suspect dead, the other one on the run. Who could have imagined it would have taken this fast? Not the experts.
BURNETT: No, it's not --
BLITZER: It's not over with yet.
LAWRENCE: Not even close. But to know who's involved, right, Erin?
BURNETT: I think that is incredible. When you -- because everyone says it's going to be a needle in a haystack. You know, you look at the Benghazi situation. They were able to intercept calls.
BLITZER: They got those videos. Once they got the pictures --
BLITZER: -- of the two suspects, they made it public. It was -- there was a lot of law enforcement types that spoke to me last night saying it's only a matter of time, somebody's going to recognize these two guys. We didn't know that they would allegedly go to a convenience store, rob it and then kill -- shoot and kill an MIT security guard.
LAWRENCE: Significant investigative work going. As you said, it's not over. They don't know if there aren't more people involved. That's why they're --
LAWRENCE: -- being such -- acting out of such an abundance, of course.
BURNETT: But the quickness with which -- given the volume of cell phone calls, the amount of video. Sometimes having too much is actually a bad thing. They were able to go through that so quickly and identify these two people. And now with this lockdown --
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes -- Tom Fuentes is joining us now as he has been over these past several days, the former assistant director of the FBI, a CNN analyst right now. Take us a little bit behind the scenes, Tom. What's the biggest concern the investigators have right now even as they're closing in -- apparently closing in, we hope they're closing in, on the second suspect?
TOM FUENTES, CNN ANALYST: Well, I think, Wolf, the biggest concern they have is that, increasingly, you have a cornered animal essentially. He could get desperate. He could ambush the police officers that are searching apartment by apartment. He could set up booby traps and try to hurt or kill law enforcement officers by that means. He could break into somebody's apartment. And -- in other words, do a home invasion and hold people hostage or become a barricaded subject with hazardous materials. So, there's a number of possible problem situations that could develop in these last few minutes as they're trying to get him apprehended. As they close in closer, he's going to become more dangerous.
And then, don't forget. he's already dangerous. I mean, in addition to the marathon bombings that occurred last Monday, he and his brother assassinated this MIT police officer last night. That officer was not approaching them. They were -- he had nothing to do with any kind of suspicion of them apparently. He was sitting in his police car. And they ambushed him and murdered him. So, they're the ones that began this attack last night. They're the ones that elevated their profile between that attack and the armed robbery at the convenience store. And then the carjacking of another innocent person and shooting and throwing explosives. I mean, they are the ones that essentially went to war last night against law enforcement. There's still one member left, the younger brother, that can still continue that war right now.
BLITZER: Here's what I don't understand, Tom. And I don't know if we'll ever understand this. They hijacked a car and the driver, take the driver hostage, they release the driver even after they basically boasted in the car that they were the guys who blew up the bombs at the Boston marathon. That makes no sense to me. But maybe you have a better appreciation of the thinking of these kinds of guys.
FUENTES: Well, we talked from the beginning that they might have a mentality of wanting to gloat, you know, brag, take credit, feel glorified that they pulled this off. And it could be they just wanted somebody to market that information for them to be able to go out and take that. Similar to two months ago with Dorner in California where after killing police officers and innocent citizens and chases and shootouts, he hijacks a car, you know, at that mountain top and lets that driver and his dog go and doesn't hurt them. So, he invades a home and steals their car, but he doesn't hurt them either. So, it's hard to figure at what point somebody deems a threat. And, in this case, maybe he was, you know, for whatever reason, did the carjacking, the two of them, I mean, do the carjacking and didn't take it out on the driver.
BLITZER: One of the suspects is dead, the other one remains on the loose. If they capture him alive, we might get some answers to these questions. If they -- if they find him and they kill him in the process of trying to capture him if he's a deadly threat, obviously we might never know the full story of what was behind what was going on.
BURNETT: Which would be an awful thing. As we've talked about this, this is the first time an act like this has been pulled off successfully on U.S. soil. And given there are so many questions on what the inspiration was, what the training was, what the relationship was between the brothers, to not get answers would be -- would be a real blow to law enforcement and terrorism protection in this country.
LAWRENCE: Also, an important message that the United States tries to send in situations like this is that they don't respond to violence with violence. And so, capturing him and putting him through the justice system is very important, even optically, to them.
BLITZER: And we want to know and hopefully in the process of the questioning we might get some answers why three people were senselessly killed at the end of the Boston marathon, nearly 200 people were injured. Many of them remaining right now in critical condition. And now, a police -- a security officer from MIT killed for no reason whatsoever.
BURNETT: No reason at all.
BLITZER: Let's go to Brooke Baldwin. She's over there in Cambridge where these two suspects, they lived there, Brooke. And you were telling us they're getting ready for a controlled explosion because they fear they may have found some more explosives.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's precisely right, Wolf. So, we're going to stay on these live pictures. I'm standing just off camera watching all of this unfold in front of my eyes. So, what you see is the yellow crime scene tape and about half a dozen firefighters here. You see some of those agents moving in. Those are FBI agents with the FBI vests and walking in. We're in watch and wait mode. We learned about the controlled explosions at that news conference just about an hour ago.
And we have not really seen any hustle, any major activity other than everyone sort of just standing by. But where you see that tape, that is Norfolk street. So if you hook a right and you go past those firefighters and down that street just about a football field and a half away, that is that apartment complex where these two young men had lived.
What you can't see in this shot but I can set the scene for you, I am staring at an American Red Cross disaster relief truck. There are one, two, three ambulances here on standby. I've seen state police. I've seen Cambridge police. Somerville police, Somerville is a neighborhood just around the corner from us here in Cambridge. So we are awaiting these controlled explosions. And any case like this of course you have to think five steps ahead if you're law enforcement. And if this is where these two men lived and if in fact they were the ones capable of Monday's horrendous, horrendous bombing, who knows what's inside of that apartment. So they have to take every precaution to make sure it's safe before they can go in and search it, Wolf.
BLITZER: How close are you, Brooke, to what's going on over there? (AUDIO BREAK) -- keeping (ph) media are relatively far away for understandable reason. BALDWIN: Yes, you know, I've been here all morning long. So I'm staring with my own eyes at these firefighters you're looking at I would say they're maybe I don't know 100 to 150 feet right in front of me, 12:00. And I was earlier this morning just across the street from them much, much closer. But there was a point when a lot of the FBI agents rushed toward the media.
And I got to tell you it's a crush of media here as you can imagine several dozen outlets out here, reporters, photographers. So they suddenly said you have to move, you have to move. A Cambridge police officer walked toward me and said it isn't safe. So slowly but surely, sort of as we've seen Deborah Feyerick and her situation in Watertown today, we have slowly had to creep farther and farther back. I have to mention too, Wolf, not just members of the media out here but folks who live along Norfolk street. I saw a mother changing her baby's diaper on the sidewalk because they're stuck. They have nowhere to go because of these controlled explosions. They have to sit and wait just like the rest of us, out of precaution, Wolf.
BLITZER: Apparently a lot of explosive devices in the area. Right now law enforcement working. Brooke, we'll get back to you. You know, Erin, as we watch what's going on, we're here in Boston. It's a pretty nerve wracking situation.
BURNETT: It is a nerve wracking situation and they do believe the suspect's armed and dangerous and there could have been pipe bombs left around which creates a real sense of fear.
BLITZER: Which is why they're doing these controlled explosions. Just to be precise what that means is experts go in there and detonate these bombs to make sure they don't kill anyone.
BURNETT: That's right. They want to make sure there are no other casualties in the horror that's gone on the past few days. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back with the live coverage of the breaking news manhunt here in Boston.
BURNETT: Welcome back. Authorities in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation plan to conduct controlled explosions later today in Cambridge. We've been talking a bit about these, but we want to make sure you understand what they're doing. They made this announcement a short time ago which seems to indicate as Wolf was saying before the commercial break that they found more explosives tied to the suspected bombers. They want to detonate them in a controlled way so they no longer pose a threat to public safety.
Right now, one of the suspects is dead. One is still on the run. Here's the very latest we know right now. Authorities have identified the Boston Marathon bombers as brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. They are from a predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia. Police are trying to find the younger brother right now, he's 19-years-old, believed to be extremely dangerous possibly armed with explosives on his person. Unclear whether he was injured in the shoot outlast night in which his 26-year-old brother died. It was a shootout with police. So, it's unclear whether he's injured and hiding somewhere and unable to move, whether he moved, they don't know right now. We're told that the brother was wearing explosives and a triggering device when he died which is why they're worried --
BLITZER: The older brother.
BURNETT: The older brother. This is why they're worried the younger brother could be in a similar situation. And as you all know, this happened overnight and intensified. Police say the suspects robbed a convenience store, shot and killed an MIT police officer. I was on the air live when that happened last night, Wolf. And as you know, it was no expectation at that time that there was any relation between the two things. But there ended up being.
BLITZER: And when they heard of a convenience store robbery, stuff like that happens.
BLITZER: Some security guard MIT was shot, people didn't put that together to the search for these two suspects.
BURNETT: And we were very hesitant to do so because everyone is so on edge. And then they led officers on a wild chase in a stolen car. Right now heavily armed police have swarmed a section of Watertown. Their guns are drawn. They've recovered a car possibly connected to the bombing suspect. All Boston area schools are closed, businesses are closed, public transportation shut down. Everyone told to stay in their homes as officers go door-to-door in a massive manhunt unlike anything we've ever seen before in this country.
BLITZER: They're doing this out of an abundance of caution. Because already, one MIT security guard has been killed. They don't want anymore people hurt or killed in the process.
BURNETT: -- anyone else to lose their lives. The FBI are also trying to question people as they minute by minute they learn more of who's involved. These two brothers had two sisters. One of them lived in West New York. It's a town actually in the state of New Jersey. And our Maggie Lake is there. Maggie.
MAGGIE LAKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, that's right. What you're looking at is the front door of the apartment building where the sister lives. Alina Tsarnaev, the sister of the suspected bombers. This has been cordoned off with police tape. FBI agents are inside. They have been there for the better part of two hours now.
We just saw a car pull up. There's more movement than we've seen in quite some time, so it may be that either she is about to exit with her husband, possibly. Or they're about to start bringing evidence out. One presumes they've been trying to find out if there's been any contact, when the last time she spoke to her brothers. We haven't been able to get a lot of information from law enforcement officials here. They have been on the scene all morning. There is a huge amount of media surrounding this as you can imagine as well as neighbors who are as surprised to see the police here as anyone. Not a lot of them seem to know a lot about the sister. We may find out more in coming days. But, again, the sister and her husband we believe inside being questioned by the FBI for more than -- or about two hours now. We have seen some movement. We do think that they might be coming out shortly, Erin.
BURNETT: And, Maggie, you know we've heard from the uncle of the nephews. Wolf and I were listening when he gave an impromptu press conference there and talking about the shame he felt of being linked to this. He referred to the brothers as losers, said he had no indication of them being radicalized. But also had no idea that this could have happened and was shocked and dismayed. Do you have any sense as to the FBI's belief as to whether the sisters were closer to their brothers in any way than perhaps the uncle? That they might have known more?
LAKE: You know, Erin, we don't right now. There are some reports kicking around, but I have to tell you there hasn't been a lot of access. They were not answering their door this morning. Maybe made a couple muffled comments through the door. They did seem to be in shock and very upset by this, as you can imagine. But again, the reason the investigators have probably been in there for as long as they have is try to determine exactly what sort of relationship they had. They do live, as you said down here in New Jersey. There are also reports that there may be another sister in the area. Again, it's so fluid a lot of people are chasing these leads. The investigators certainly on the scene here. They've been in there for a long time. One has to expect they're also trying to -- we expect maybe come out with some materials, perhaps computers as is often the case in this to see whether there has been any correspondence in terms of that, any correspondence through social media. Again, we don't know exactly what the relationship was with this sister, Erin.
BURNETT: Thank you.
BLITZER: We're going to stay on top of that, Maggie Lake reporting from West New York which happens to be in New Jersey. We're going to get back to the investigation, the manhunt underway now for one of the surviving brothers, the younger brother, the 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
But I want to get an update, what's going on in West, Texas. Martin Savidge is standing by at the fertilizer plant that exploded and kill and injured a lot of people. New information on that. Martin, what are you learning?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're getting a couple updates. First of all they say now the official death toll so far is 12. This is the first time they've given us a real hard figure. So far 12 victims have been recovered from the rubble as a result of that huge explosion that occurred late on Wednesday night.
Also they are saying this they have searched now and the search and rescue mission should be pointed out is still ongoing which of course leads some to believe that there is some hope perhaps more survivors could be found in the rubble. They have now cleared 150 buildings in the area of blast site. They have 24 or 25 more structures to be cleared today. They hope to be done with that before the day is done. And they also say that there are about 50 buildings that have been destroyed as a result of the blast.
We just had a briefing from the political representation I could say, the two senators that represent Texas, and it was John Cornyn who raised eyebrows when he said there are 60 people still unaccounted for. 6-0. And that's of course a number that has many people worried because as time goes by if it's still that high, you have to worry that the death toll could climb higher. Afterwards when we questioned him specifically on that, he couched (ph) it (ph) a bit saying they are double checking on that. Take that with a grain of salt. They have to cross check with hospitals, relatives, with addresses to make sure people who said they lived where they did actually did. So it is still very much a search and rescue operation that is underway. They fear the death toll is going to rise. The number of injured now stands at 200, Wolf.
BLITZER: Martin Savidge on the scene for us in West, Texas, with the latest on that fertilizer explosion. The casualty numbers continuing to go up. What is encouraging though, they still think it's a search and rescue operation. They're hoping that they can find some people who may still be alive.
BURNETT: Right. When you hear the discrepancy between 60 still supposedly unaccounted for and the death toll being significantly lower at 12, you have to hope and pray that those people end up, some of them, being found alive.
Wolf, we just got this tweet that I wanted to share with everyone about what's going on here in Boston from the Boston police. They're saying that 60 percent of the search is done. They're saying that.
BLITZER: In the Watertown area?
BURNETT: They're saying Boston police here's the tweet per Mass state police, "60 percent of the search is done but there's still more work to be done." Boston police department referring to the Massachusetts police department. Again, that's just a tweet.
BLITZER: Which suggests this lockdown in the city asking everyone to stay put, don't use public transportation, don't go to school, don't go to that situation.
You know what, we're getting live pictures coming in now. This is the home of the uncle of these two suspects. The uncle's name Ruslan Tsarni. He probably shortened it from the Russian original Tsarnaev, probably shortened to Tsarni. There you see the uncle walking outside the home. I don't know if that uncle's going to come to the microphone, speak out. As you know, Erin, he did speak out extensively a couple hours or so ago and made a very passionate statement disassociating himself, his family, Chechnya, if you will, from these two young boys. And let's play a little bit of that. Here's the uncle. His name is Ruslan Tsarni. And he says these two young men, these suspects one of whom is now dead, brought shame to the family and to the people of Chechnya.