CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Manhunt for Teen Bomb Suspect; Cambridge, Massachusetts Warned of Controlled Blast; Boston Area on Lockdown for Manhunt

Aired April 19, 2013 - 14:30   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Again, not clear if there is any specific thing or threat on that campus, but clearly they want to, out of an abundance of caution, there are thousands of police officers, law enforcement personnel, National Guard troops, here in Boston in Watertown, all throughout this city, trying to facilitate, trying to help as much as they can. We're going to take another short break. Our coverage continues in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the massive manhunt now under way for 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, his brother killed earlier this morning. He is now one of those two marathon bombing suspects still on the loose.

I want to show you just a map if you're not familiar with the Boston area, the Watertown area, just kind of give you an overall sense of where the layout of everything is and where this manhunt and where the various interactions with police have occurred really over the last 24 hours.

Maybe about 16 hours or so, starting in Cambridge where that first report of a convenience store being robbed brought police to the scene. That is also in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where a police officer from MIT was killed, found dead in his vehicle.

Apparently, shot by one of the suspects and that is also where the carjacking began and ended up in Watertown. Our Brooke Baldwin is standing by live in Cambridge. Brooke, explain where you are and what you are looking at.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, so Anderson, I am about a block away from Norfolk Street, so these are live pictures. I stepped away from the camera so you can see basically what I'm looking at. Norfolk Street down the road, about a football field and a half, is where these suspects, these two brothers apparently lived.

I have been here in Cambridge for I'd say five to six hours and we have been watching off and on, a lot of law enforcement activity I've seen local police, state police and a huge, huge presence of FBI agents.

In the last 10 minutes or so, huge change, we all have been waiting for these controlled explosions that police had briefed us on, about two hours ago. We heard no booms. No explosions here on the street. To the left, and I was in this crush of cameras, the press, where suddenly a loud, much, much closer and in fact, everyone was standing, as I was a moment ago before hopping on TV with you, I was in the midst of the cameras.

Where they're now positioned is a perspective in which they can get video as soon as presumably the law enforcement -- the big trucks, the armored trucks begin to leave they will be able to capture the video, that we're not getting a lot of communication from the police out here.

But I can tell you, when we were trying to get information from the Cambridge police officer here on street, we said is it done, is it done? He said, yes. So is that official word that the search of the suspect's apartment is done?

Perhaps not officially, but that's what we're hearing here on the street. Again, no bombs going off that we could hear, but that's the latest on the street in Cambridge. Back to you.

COOPER: OK, Brooke. I got a couple of questions for you, Brooke. First, for our viewers, we're obviously don't want to do anything that gives away any kind of tactical information, any kind of ongoing tactical operations. That's been a problem in years past. It can even be more of a problem with live television.

We're very cautious in terms of where we're pointing the cameras, what we're showing you, putting things on tape delay when warranted. The - obviously everybody's role here besides our role to inform you, we don't want to do anything that impedes or hampers this investigation.

It is very possible this suspect is hunkered down in some home somewhere watching television, the concern we have with the massive manhunt under way with Chris Dorner months ago in California.

Brooke, a couple of key questions, do we know, we may not know this, so let's not speculate, but do we know for a fact these two suspects lived at that address? Because I just asked Chris Lawrence about he had heard -- he had talked to a young man who helped this younger suspect Dzhokhar at 19 move in to a dorm on campus, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

But it wasn't clear whether he still lived in that dorm or whether that has just been in past years. Do we know who exactly lives in that apartment?

BALDWIN: You know, we have -- I have -- a couple of crews are here. It is a great question. A couple of crews, CNN crews here on the ground. We talked to different people who attended high school with the younger one, Dzhokhar.

As far as precisely whether or not they lived in this apartment, Elizabeth Cohen here in Cambridge talked to the neighbor, so according to this neighbor, yes, they did, in fact, live in this particular apartment building here on Norfolk Street in Cambridge. COOPER: OK. We've also now heard reports that the older brother, 26- year-old Tamerlan who was shot and killed earlier in the early hours this morning, that he had a wife or girlfriend and also a child, a 3- year-old child. Do they also live in that address or, and, again, if we don't know, we don't know.

BALDWIN: Yes, I asked the exact same question of people who knew Dzhokhar, they knew of the brother, but they had no -- I asked about the wife and the daughter and they had no idea he was married or had this child at all.

COOPER: OK, so as far as you can tell, we don't know whether a controlled explosion has occurred or whether they have decided not to do that at this point, right?

BALDIWN: We do not know. But I think the fact they're allowing a lot of these families who have had babies out here on streets for many, many hours, they are letting them back into their homes, I think we can assume that all is clear as far as any potential controlled explosions -- Anderson.

COOPER: OK, Brooke, I appreciate the update on that. Let's check in with Joe Johns now in Washington, D.C. Joe, what are you hearing? What is the latest on the investigation?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I've been talking to investigators and others connected to all of this. And I have to tell you, series of questions out there. We have contradictory information.

This is no reflection, Anderson, on the law enforcement people who are trying to figure it out and trying to chase this individual down. Nonetheless, I wanted to go through some of the information that seems to be conflicting a little bit and let you know what our questions are.

First, Anderson, you started out talking about the green Honda Civic that authorities are looking for, Connecticut police put out a be on the lookout for that automobile. It has Massachusetts license plates.

Now that is actually the second suspect vehicle or alleged suspect vehicle we have heard about. Today, the first was a Mercedes SUV. That would be the vehicle that was carjacked earlier this morning.

So two suspect vehicles we heard about, we also have gotten some contradictory information about the controlled explosions that you were just trying to sort of explore there with Brooke.

Now, the issue there is where are they doing controlled explosions and what are they blowing up? We do know there were some explosives found with the suspect who died this morning. It was believed to be on his body.

There were also reports of some types of explosives perhaps being thrown out the window of a vehicle. So we're told by authorities that there were or were shortly going to be controlled explosions for those.

The question, of course, was whether there was also something at that location where Brooke is, and, frankly, very difficult to say. So those are probably the biggest things, you know, you have two cars, you have controlled explosions alleged at separate places, and we're trying to figure it all out.

We're obviously not blaming the police officials, they're doing the best they can and there is a lot that people don't know. Again and again, people have told me there have been false alarms as one law enforcement authority called it, false alarms all over. And that's adding to the confusion -- Anderson.

COOPER: Joe, just very briefly, though, obviously while this manhunt is going on, there are other aspects of this investigation which are going on. A lot of people both in the United States and overseas looking into these two suspects, to any possible foreign connections, to any possible overseas travel.

There had been a report that the older man, 26-year-old Tamerlan, had travelled to Russia for about six months before coming back to the United States. So there are multiple prongs ongoing while this manhunt is under way.

JOHNS: That's absolutely right. And we're told that investigators are searching under every rock to try to determine if there are any foreign sources to -- foreign terrorism that might be unearthed.

And when I last checked, I wasn't -- I was told that authorities were also certainly looking at the possibility that this could be an entirely domestic situation, that no one has drawn any conclusions, they entered it with an open mind and haven't put out any information either way -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Joe Johns, appreciate that reporting. We'll continue to check in with Joe. We're going to take another short break and our coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. I want to go to Athena Jones in Montgomery County, Maryland, outside the suspect's uncle's house. Athena, what have you been seeing there?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. Well, just a few minutes ago we saw four young girls arrive of varying ages. We haven't confirmed it yet, but we believe them to be the daughters of Ruslan Tsarni. Ruslan Tsarnis is the brother of the suspects' father.

We have been out here all morning with other media, watching FBI agents and county police, police from here in Montgomery County, coming and going. We know from the FBI that they interviewed actually two uncles here at this location.

But we only have been able to speak with Ruslan Tsarni, and I can tell you about an hour ago, I believe we have video of this, Mr. Tsarni left his home and walked just up the street here, we're at the end of a cul-de-sac.

Telling us the media he wanted to apologize to his neighbors about the commotion that had been created here this morning by this news. He walked into the home of a neighbor who we're told by other neighbors is close to this family, spend a few minutes inside with her and walked back out with her, all of them escorted by Montgomery County Police.

They went back into his home and have been there for the last hour, as I said, just a few minutes ago, the four young girls arrived. They were delivered here in a truck that left, pulled out, and they got out.

I can tell you that we haven't spoken to Ruslan Tsarni in the last hour. But when we last saw him, we asked if he had spoken to the suspects' father, he said he had not.

And earlier today he spoke at length with the media, and gave a really impassioned plea to Dzhokhar to turn himself in, to ask for forgiveness. Let's listen to a little bit of what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say, Dzhokhar, if you're alive, turn yourself in, and ask for forgiveness, from the victims, from the injured, and from those who love you, ask for forgiveness from these people. We are not requiring forgiveness in this family. He put a shame. He put a shame on our family.

He put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity, because everyone now names shame with the word Chechen, so they put that shame on the entire ethnicity. That's what I would say. Turn yourself in and whatever, whatever -- put yourself at the discretion of those.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: There you heard from him pretty impassioned words there. I had a chance to ask him when he came out about an hour ago if he had anything more to say, he said not at the moment. I should mention that we asked him earlier if he knew about these brothers, whether they had any sort of military training, weapons training, if they were radicalized by events in Chechnya.

He said, they haven't been to Chechnya, they grew up here. He felt shame, he felt the brothers brought shame on the Chechen community, but did not believe they had any sort of relationship to Chechnya directly because they were so young when they came here.

One more thing I should note, though, he said he had not seen these two young men since December of 2005, which is, of course, some time ago. So he was only able to be rather vague, I should say, about whether they had had any sort of military training.

He didn't sound like he was in a position to know that. But he did say he had spoken last with the brothers' father about three months ago but not recently -- Anderson. COOPER: Yes, just important to emphasize, he really has not seen these young men in several years. So he's not quite aware of what's been going on in their lives, but interesting to hear his perspective. Athena, appreciate it.

I want to hear the perspective now of Sierra Schwartz. She is joining me on the phone. She went to Cambridge High School with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Sierra, I appreciate you calling in to us. What do you know about him? What was he like back then?

SIERRA SCHWARTZ, WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH SUSPECT (via telephone): He was a very, you know, gentle, kind person when we knew him. Of course, this is not the case anymore, with the recent horrible tragedies.

But at the time in high school, he was friendly, he had lots of friends, he seemed, you know, like a nice person. We never -- no one in my community had any suspect of any of this behavior. We're all deeply, deeply shocked.

COOPER: Sierra, let me ask you a couple of detailed questions. What years did you know him?

SCHWARTZ: I knew him all four years of high school. We had one acting class together and that's really when I got to know him the most out of those four years. But when I knew him in my class, he was very kind, very, you know, kind of quiet. But, you know, said funny things, said nice things, he was a good friend to those who were friends with him.

COOPER: OK, so you knew him from high school. You weren't --

SCHWARTZ: No, no, no. I'm sorry. Go ahead.

COOPER: OK. What -- did very any kind of extracurricular activities, after school activities, beyond just what he did in the classroom? Was he interested in particular subjects? Do you have any knowledge of that?

SCHWARTZ: I don't know what subjects he was interested in, but I know he was a wrestler in high school. He was, you know, an athlete, he got scholarships. He seemed -- all signs seemed to point towards bright and promising future.

So clearly something intercepted that and changed him for the much worse because, you know, the unspeakable acts going on, it is very hard to comprehend that someone seemed so -- like a good person, could have done something so evil.

COOPER: So what year did you graduate high school? Because he's 19 so it was quite recently. What year did he graduate?

SCHWARTZ: Yes. Him and I were both class of 2011.

COOPER: In 2011. OK, so he became a citizen really in September 11 of 2012. So he became a citizen after graduating high school. To your knowledge, and, again, if you don't know this, that's fine, to your knowledge, did he date anybody during high school? Did he have relationships? Did he go parties? Did he smoke? Did he drink?

SCHWARTZ: He hung out -- he had friends. I saw him at some parties together. I don't know anything about his relationship life, but he seemed like any other, you know, adjusted high schooler.

You know, had plenty of friends, went to parties, but also worked hard in school, got scholarships, you know, took honors classes. So, you know, it just seemed like he had a great future, just like, you know, we would have expected from someone coming from my high school. There were no signs of any sort of negative activity when he was there.

COOPER: Did you know of him as somebody who was of descent from the Caucasus region, from Chechnya or Dagestan. Did you know of him as somebody being born overseas? Did he talk about that at all to your knowledge?

SCHWARTZ: We knew he had emigrated, but we -- I never heard him talk about anything suspicious at all. Nothing that, you know, would have made it sound like he, you know, would have been involved in any activity.

Sometimes his name spelled out the way it is, sometimes he would make jokes about that his name was hard to pronounce, but apart from that, he never said anything that would have made us suspect that he was part of this activity.

COOPER: OK, Sierra, again, I know this is all surreal for you and I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us and try to piece together -- yes. Yes, I can imagine. We're obviously trying to piece together the pieces of what has occurred.

Not only if it may help the manhunt in any way, but also just to try to understand what led these two people down this path and obviously that's something we may not know for many hours, many days, weeks, if ever.

We're going to take another short break. But before we do, again, I want to bring in national security expert Jim Walsh. This is an investigation, which I said to Joe Johns, is multipronged. We're focusing on a manhunt.

But there is a lot we're not seeing in terms of tracking down travel records, immigration records, everything possible that might lead investigators to understand is there any kind of foreign connection, are these people who were somehow radicalized in the United States, if so, where?

We saw among Somali populations in the Minneapolis area, I believe it was, a number of young Somalis who ended up going overseas. In fact, the first suicide bomber in Somalia a couple of years ago was an American, naturalized American.

So there are a lot of questions about what happened to these two in the United States and the relationship between these two. You have this 19-year-old and you have this older man, this 26-year-old, who we know did travel overseas who clearly seems to -- was he the one in the lead? We simply don't know.

JIM WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you're right to characterize it that way, Anderson. This is an investigation which is moving from the inside out, and from the outside in. So from the inside out, what are they doing is this trying to talk to all the family members to try to identify who his social network is.

And perhaps find someone who might be able to talk to them, if they are able to locate him, but in any case, to try to document his social relationships. They have gone to University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth presumably because he display had a gym locker in addition to a dorm room and are looking for -- it seems unlikely he would return there, but there may be physical evidence in addition to trying to map his social network.

While they're moving from Watertown out there are other parts of the U.S. government starting from the outside, foreign intelligence and others who are working their way back in. So they're rechecking all of the intelligence and chatter they have looked at in the last four days to see if something makes sense now that didn't make sense before or if something shows.

They're look at signal intelligence. They are interviewing contacts overseas. You better believe there's a presence in Russia and Chechnya between moving out, and coming in, they're hoping to round out the picture and hopefully to find someone or find a way to persuade him to just stop before this reaches an end that no one wants to see.

COOPER: It is not as if -- the older brother was in Russia, we don't know who he was in contact with.

WALSH: Right. And I -- I love the way that we have been cautious at each step here. We know the last four days the police have made errors, eyewitnesses made errors. It is easy to make errors. But one of the things to keep in mind is, sure, to be radicalized by a foreign group, you would most, not always, but many travel overseas, but not every overseas trip results in radicalization.

COOPER: Doesn't require that now with the internet. People can radicalize here, watching sermons and the like online. Our coverage continues. We'll take another short break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of the massive manhunt now under way also search the attic and the garage and go in as if you're going through the White House or someplace really secure with the mirror they look under your car and they also have K-9 units, dogs there as well.

And according to the police officers I've spoken with, they're going to go section by section to every single home in Watertown until they find this person here, until they feel secure enough that this person is not here or until they find him, Anderson.

COOPER: About how many -- I mean, let's not talk actual numbers, but you've seen multiple state, federal, local agencies in that area.

LEMON: Yes. I've seen from Plymouth, from Watertown, from Boston, when we were here earlier, when I first got here, I guess about 6:30 this morning, there were city buses, two city buses filled with Boston police officers.