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CNN NEWSROOM

Boston Manhunt Continues; Eyewitness Descriptions of Police Activities

Aired April 19, 2013 - 15:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: About 10 minutes later, three more buses filled with Boston police officers. About 30 minutes later, I counted seven buses filled with Boston police officers.

And then we saw different SWAT units, different -- different tactical units, different bomb squad units from different municipalities all coming in, into this particular area. And I would imagine that this is not the only street that they're coming into. There are other routes into Watertown. So I would imagine there are thousands upon thousands of police officers that they're using to go door to door in this neighborhood.

Earlier, where Deb was, you know, there was a center of attention because they thought they had some suspect in there, they were looking at a car. But you heard the people in the press conference say, listen, we only have a certain percentage of the area covered. It may move from area to area.

And as we have been standing here, we have seen it get closer and closer to where we are. And once they search a particular area, they will allow certain residents to go back in or allow an ease of entering and returning or leaving and returning to the home, but they only do that -- you can only go into those areas once they have searched every single crevice of that area. You can either get in or out.

Otherwise, it is on lockdown. It is blocked off. You cannot go in and out of those neighborhoods -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Don.

I want to bring in Tom Fuentes, formerly with the FBI.

Tom, as you have been watching this manhunt, and as we have been watching this manhunt unfold all day long, at this point, what stands out to you? Where do you see it?

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I just see that it is a very methodical process, which it has to be.

I know we're all impatient, want this resolved, want him apprehended and the threat from the community removed and bring him to justice. But, you know, we have to also understand that those police officers, as they're walking up to the doors of each apartment, they know they could be ambushed, they know there could be booby traps, they're in a very dangerous spot.

And this is a guy that just last night assassinated a police officer who wasn't even approaching them, much less the officers today who are going after him. So they just have to take it very slow, very carefully, deliberate process, hope to not touch off a booby trap, and not only get themselves killed, but maybe burn down an apartment building and have other problems, so this is something they're just going to have to do it safely, methodically, and unfortunately that's going to take a while.

COOPER: Tom, what do you make of the fact that the bombings themselves were not suicide attacks, and yet these two, these two suspects, if they are in fact the people who committed these atrocities, they didn't seem to have an exit strategy? They seemed -- their plan seems to be -- have started to unravel last night.

FUENTES: I guess my armchair psychology about that would be that they weren't ready to leave Boston on Monday, and by last night they were ready to leave this world and go out in a blaze of glory.

And I think that, you know, we have the situation on Monday where they wanted to enjoy the, you know, basking in their glory, admire their own handiwork. They stay at the crime scenes where people are so severely injured and killed, and they don't even leave, much like an arsonist stays at a fire to watch the handiwork that he did.

So then these days go by, the pictures go on the media last night, and I think if they saw that, they realized they have got people that are going to turn them in before too long, that their hours and days are definitely going to be numbered. So they go on offense. And I think that's what led to the very first thing last night to start their battle with the police and society, their final battle and that was killing the MIT police officer.

Once that happens, the carjacking, the chase, the shoot-out with police, all of that, they initiated. They weren't still trying to hide. They weren't still trying to escape. They decided to take a stand and go on offense and go out in a blaze of glory. I think at that point, especially if it is true that they were both wearing explosives, it seems as though the older brother was, then that's telling you that they're now ready to commit suicide and be martyrs or be -- the blaze of glory.

I don't want to say martyr because, you know, they may not have been, you know, in that fervent religious mode. They may have just been doing this for some other personal reason. But in any event, I think they made the decision that they're going to go out and, you know, many times in these cases you have suicide by cop.

In this case, much like Dorner, Dorner in the California case in February, you have guys that, you know, they're trying to have suicide by cop with cops and take people with them. I think that's the -- at least that's my assessment of what the mentality was that changed, that as of last night, when those pictures went on the media worldwide, immediately I think they felt the walls closing in and the pressure to do something. COOPER: From a law enforcement standpoint, Tom, how much do law enforcement wants to capture this young man alive, just -- and not only in terms of bringing this person to justice, but in terms of kind of unraveling all of this and trying to figure out if there are other suspects involved, what other kind of motivation there is, any kind of foreign involvement?

FUENTES: Well, you just said all the reasons why they want him alive. It would be a lot easier if he was taken alive, and chose to cooperate and then they could determine definitively that they weren't funded -- and it doesn't appear they were funded by an overseas group -- and how wide the support was. Maybe they had no support, it was just each other.

And also if the younger brother was under the control or spell or pressure from the older brother, that's lifted now. The older brother is gone. And if he's on his own, I would think, as a 19-year-old, it is a different psychology with him than it would have been if it was he and his brother captured together and then they're -- you know, he's still under the spell, let's say, or the pressure from the brother, under the control of the brother.

So I think it is a different dynamic from that standpoint, that he doesn't have the older brother ordering him around or trying to persuade him or pressure him. And, you know, from that standpoint, if they get him alive, I think it would be a lot easier to learn from him what led to this in the first place.

If not, they will be able to go a long way anyway with phone and Internet now that they have their identities. That's in progress right now, who they have been in touch with, what discussions they had, what e-mails they sent, what postings on social media. All of that is already being put together as we speak, but, again, if he's alive, it would be easier if he helped -- helped with that piece to put together.

COOPER: It certainly -- Jim Walsh is also joining us here on site in Boston.

It certainly does help law enforcement to know that this 19-year-old, Dzhokhar, has lived in the United States since 2002, since he was 8 years old. So it is not that he's only been here a year and is not that familiar with this...

JIM WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: He is an American. If you have grown up -- he was an American citizen and he's lived (AUDIO GAP) foreign influence or foreign (AUDIO GAP) so that changes it.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Joe Johns in Washington, as Anderson Cooper tries to reestablish his signal. We can see a line of police officers there.

And this is a very disturbing situation in Massachusetts right now. We have seen many hours of lockdown in Watertown, Massachusetts. That whole situation actually expanded out to the city of Boston as authorities look for the one remaining bomber.

Just wanted to take you back through some of the developments that brought us to this place. The death of a police officer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported at 12:45 a.m. today. After that, CNN's Drew Griffin reported that explosives may have been involved in the situation. And then we were off to the races.

Police advising Watertown residents to stay inside. The FBI saying that it is trying to determine right around 2:31 in the morning if that situation in Watertown, of course, was connected to the Boston Marathon bombing. And we all know what happened after that.

Now we're going to go back to Anderson.

And, Anderson, I can take you all the way through the chronology, but bring us up to date with what you have.

COOPER: Yes. Well, Joe, it is interesting, just going through the chronology with you, again, this did begin with that -- reports of a robbery at a convenience store in Cambridge.

CNN was on the air reporting it live with the killing of the police officer, a 26-year-old police officer, a young man, whose colleagues have all come out with effusive praise for him over the last several hours obviously.

(AUDIO GAP) officer wounded in that (AUDIO GAP) early morning hours in Watertown. And that was really the last time we saw him.

Don Lemon is standing by in Watertown.

Again, really the area completely locked down, Don.

Don Lemon, are you standing by in Watertown? What are you seeing?

LEMON: Yes, yes, I am. I'm standing by the picture you're seeing of the officers there. That's what we're seeing.

It appears that the focus of this investigation and search has moved here, very near to where we are. And as that helicopter gets closer and closer, it may be a bit harder for you to hear me. To my right, what you're seeing on your screen now is what is over my right shoulder. Over my left shoulder, I'm looking down the street and I see just as many, if not more police officers, again, in gear, going door to door.

And we have been watching them do that for about an hour now. And according to investigators here, according to police officers, Anderson, as we know, 200,000 to 300,000 people who live in Watertown, they say at least within a 20-block area, that's the original focus, they're going to go to every single home.

If they don't find that suspect or if that suspect is not found by then, they will expand that search to go to every single home in Watertown and the surrounding area. Of course, Watertown, out of all of the other towns here, are on -- is on lockdown. And Boston is really on a shelter in place.

But Boston -- but Watertown is on a lockdown. People are being asked to stay in their homes, do not leave, do not let anybody in your home unless you know who they are, unless you see some identification that they're a police officer, unless they arrive in gear wearing a police uniform.

The people we spoke to say they knock on your door, these guys that you see there and the thousands of others who are here, knock on your door. If you don't answer, there is a bullhorn that says open up, we need to get in. I guess if you're not there, don't open up to get in, of course, these guys have ways of getting in.

They search the entire place from attic to basement to garage to yard, and the entire perimeter of the residence is searched and property. And they are again doing that to every single home here.

Earlier, Anderson, we talked about the number of people. We don't want to give away specific numbers, as you so correctly indicated, but we can tell you that the full force of the Boston Police Department, other police departments -- here in Watertown, we saw buses and buses and buses and buses of police officers being brought in here earlier today.

And then we saw many of the people arriving on the SWAT vans, as you're seeing there, on those armored...

COOPER: Don, I got to jump in here.

We're just now getting sound from the suspect's father in Dagestan in the Caucasus region, in the former Soviet Union. Let's listen in to what he says.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ANZOR TSARNAEV, FATHER OF SUSPECTS (through translator): Someone framed him. I don't know who exactly did it, but someone did. And being cowards, they shot the boy dead. There are cops like this.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COOPER: Clearly seems to be standing by his son.

Our Ivan Watson is standing by.

Ivan, where are you now overseas? You're in where?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm in Beijing, China. And we have been actually following this story, the strange international roots of the Tsarnaev brothers.

And you heard from their father, Anzor, who is speaking from Makhachkala, the capital of the Russian republic of Dagestan. That's next to Chechnya. He was talking to Russian journalists and saying that he believes that his sons have been framed. He thinks that police basically killed his son. He made an appeal in an interview to Russian television that they spare the life of his surviving son.

And he also said in his interview, Anderson, that he had spoken to his elder son within the last week, and had talked to him, had urged him to advise his younger son to continue his university studies, to go back to school. When asked about the Boston Marathon explosions, Anzor Tsarnaev said that whoever did that is a bastard and he is glad that his sons survived that explosion -- Anderson.

COOPER: So, do we know -- so what you're saying is that the father actually says -- claims that he actually spoke to one or both of his sons after the explosions?

WATSON: That's right.

He says that within the last couple of days he spoke to his eldest son, Tamerlan, and pointed out to him, he says, in the phone call that, listen, you ended your studies because you got married, but tell your younger son, Dzhokhar, how is he doing? Tell him to stop hanging out with his friends and go back to school.

Now, we do know that the two brothers did consider themselves to be ethnic Chechens from that war-torn republic of Russia that saw so much bloodshed throughout the 1990s. But their path to America was a circuitous one, Anderson. They did not come directly from Chechnya.

In fact, they came from a Central Asian republic, a former part of the Soviet Union called Kyrgyzstan. I have talked to the Kyrgyzstan government. They confirm that both brothers had Kyrgyz passports before they eventually got green cards and moved to the U.S.

The interesting thing is that the two republics where these young men were believed to have roots before they got to the U.S., Chechnya and Kyrgyzstan, both of those governments are seeking to distance themselves from the Tsarnaev brothers. The Kyrgyz government has issued a statement saying, listen, these two guys left our country more than 12 years ago. We're not responsible for their actions.

Meanwhile, the president of the Republic of Chechnya, he's gone one step further, saying these guys were never known really in Chechnya. They got their education in the U.S., they were raised there, and whatever evil they may have committed, well, that came from America -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ivan, though, Chechnya was -- Chechen rebels, terrorists from Chechnya, were responsible for the movie theater hostage taking in Moscow several years ago.

I believe more than -- dozens of people were killed in that. I can't recall just off the top of my head the exact number. But there has been a history of Islamic fundamentalism coming out of Chechnya, and even in the last several months, if memory serves me correct, there have been a number of incidents in other republics around the former Soviet Union, correct?

WATSON: This is a deeply troubled part of the world, the South Caucasus -- the North Caucasus, rather. Chechnya was a country that saw tens of thousands of people killed throughout the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of people who were made refugees forced to flee that area. It has become calmer now under the current Russian leadership that is really ruling that area with an iron fist and has a terrible human rights record.

The neighboring Russian republic region of Dagestan, where the father of the two brothers is living, is also having a problem with an insurgency, with deaths being reported, killings, assassinations every month. This is an area that has a long legacy of violence. That said, the youngest of the two brothers, Dzhokhar, he is believed to have come to America when he was 8 years old.

He is not believed to have seen some of these awful things firsthand. Now, the older brother, we have heard from a federal official, speaking to CNN, was 20 years old when he moved to the U.S., around 2004. He may have seen more.

If you go to his -- what is believed to be his YouTube account, for example, Anderson, it is full of really links, many of them, to Chechen nationalist causes and also Islamist videos and causes, many of them in Russian. In some of them, he's actually writing in Latin letters in Russian making messages to other people.

It did seem that he had become a devout Muslim and was very concerned about Muslim causes. We don't know about the younger brother who is still alive. If you follow his Twitter feed, he sounded very much like a 19-year-old American kid -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, certainly does. Again, we're trying to learn more about the relationship between the two. Ivan Watson from Beijing, appreciate that. We're continuing to work our sources overseas. Our reporters overseas are combing through records as well.

We're going to take another short break and our coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage.

A number of sporting events that were to occur tonight, I believe a Bruins game, has been canceled, even the Big Apple Circus. It gives you the sense of just the -- kind of the state that Boston is in right now, even areas not in Watertown not directly being searched. There is just a preponderance of caution, as you can imagine.

I want to check in with our Don Lemon, who is -- I should say postponed, not canceled -- who is in Watertown right now.

Don, again, tell us what you have been witnessing over the last couple of minutes.

LEMON: Anderson, I have never seen anything like this domestically. I have been witnessing thousands upon thousands of police officers, hundreds upon hundreds of police officers here going door to door, searching every single home. And I have been seeing, as you will see now, fire trucks, rescue units, tactical vans, armored vehicles, stops, massive police presence, go in and out of this area. I have seen the perimeter move from neighborhood to neighborhood. And it has gotten closer to us every single moment here.

And there you go. You see the Watertown Fire Department rushing off to some place and behind them an unmarked police vehicle. And that's been the scene here really throughout this morning and throughout the entire evening here.

We got to witness several door-to-door searches and spoke to some of the people, and they said they were quite frightened when they -- when the police officers showed up because they didn't quite expect it. And, you know, as I have been talking to you here, telling you, imagine being in your home, and you get a knock on the door, and sometimes it -- people come over and they don't tell you they're coming over.

Many people don't open the door. If you don't do that, then you get a bullhorn, and if not a bullhorn, then they come into your house whether you would like them to come in or not. And so that's what's been happening here. And then there are people, not many people walking around. It is really quite pretty much like a deserted place here.

The only place we have been seeing people, we will see them sometimes at a convenience store. We're right next to a 7/Eleven and a Dunkin' Donuts and we will see people there, but I think people see some comfort, some comfort around the media, so they will show up around us because there are police officers.

If you can pan off, just pan off to the right here and show -- don't -- listen, Anderson, we're being protected as well, whether we realize it or not. There is an officer, you see him right there -- you see him with the rifle? There is an officer right there who has been -- he's been looking over us, watching out for us.

And then on that street that he's on right there, they are going door to door as well, and there are officers with tactical gear.

And pardon the camera. There is a camera in the way, but I just want to show you that officer standing there, he's looking at us. His officers are down -- are down the street there. And so they have been watching us. And they have been watching over the residents here. But it is pretty much a ghost town, Anderson. You can't -- as you know, they said a full lockdown.

They don't want you to leave your house. And they don't really want you going anywhere. So there you go.

COOPER: And, yes -- and on the other part of town, at the University of Massachusetts, at Dartmouth, Chris Lawrence is on the campus there. There has been a lot of activity there throughout the day.

Chris, what are you seeing now? CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, a massive amount of activity, Anderson. It has really intensified just in the last five to 10 minutes.

We saw about 10 police cars come roaring down the street and speeding directly on to campus. This follows probably over the last several hours where we saw helicopters off-loading SWAT tactical teams onto armored vehicles and then them moving deeper and deeper into the campus. That's as far as we could see.

We can't see where they went from that point. You can see the police presence, small presence here, out at the outer perimeter of the campus. But I think the big development now is this massive force, at least 10 cars that roared in there, just in the last 10 minutes or so.

COOPER: Chris -- and, again, we're gathering information. We may not know this (AUDIO GAP) has actually attended that campus. We know he graduated high school in 2011. I just talked to one of his classmates. So do we know how long he's actually been attending classes there?

LAWRENCE: I think he's been here for at least a year or two. We talked to a couple students who said they saw him here on campus after the bombing. They saw him here at UMass Dartmouth after the bombing earlier this week.

One young man told me he saw him near the dorms. It wasn't in a classroom, and he said also that other people had seen him in the gym. A lot of the folks that we spoke with say he was really big into working out, that that's where they would run into him a lot, that he would always be in the gym lifting weights and he would talk all the time.

So, again, we have from a couple of students here who are telling us that they saw him here on campus at some point after that bombing earlier this week. And, again, earlier what we have seen here on campus, first I think the big thing we saw were the helicopters coming in, off-loading personnel. They didn't -- we believe they were Black Hawk helicopters run by the Massachusetts National Guard.

We saw SWAT teams exiting those helicopters. We couldn't see what they picked up, if anything, because where they took off from was clear over about two buildings behind the one you're seeing there. So we didn't get a good vantage point of exactly what they took from the campus.

But you could clearly see over the last couple of hours that the helicopters were landing, off-loading personnel and then leaving with something. We don't know what at this point.

COOPER: It is really fascinating to hear you say that, that students on campus saw him subsequent to the bombing going to the gym, walking around on campus. Did they happen to say if he was carrying a backpack? I mean, what I would like to know -- and we may not know this unless the suspect is caught alive and is actually talking -- but whether he was confident that he wasn't going to get caught or whether he was armed on campus just in case he did get caught.

LAWRENCE: Exactly.

Anderson, I just want to draw your attention. Here we see U-Hauls, several U-Hauls being driven by what looks like the same uniforms as some of the SWAT team members that we saw off-loading off that helicopter. You can take a look. Here is another, the sheriff's department as well with one of their -- the state fire marshal, I should say, their van pulling out, so several vehicles also pulling out, again, another fire marshal vehicle.

The folks that we spoke with basically say -- I asked -- I did ask one person if they -- this backpack jumped out at him. And he said what you would think he would say. He would say, on a campus, everybody has got a backpack all the time. They're going to classes. He said, I can't remember that. And it wouldn't have stood out on a college campus, like it maybe would in certain other places.

But I think the one thing that they kept coming back to was, you know, quiet kid, nice kid. They knew that he talked about the fact that he was from Russia, but didn't talk about it much. No one had heard him say anything sort of political or anything like that.

I talked to one young woman who had a philosophy class with him. And she said, probably the most intense debate I had was when we were assigned this story or this project, I should say, on volunteer armies. And she had to take a position on being, you know, for volunteer armies. He took a position, say, against volunteer armies. And she said, we had a really intense debate in class, but it was a philosophy class, and so that was sort of expected.

Outside of that, everyone is telling us he would joke around about pop culture, music or actors or some movie that people saw.

COOPER: Right.

LAWRENCE: But they don't remember him saying anything really political, Anderson.

COOPER: Interesting. Chris, we will come back to you shortly.

Let's check in with Brooke Baldwin, who is live in Cambridge, Cambridge, Mass.

I know, Brooke, you have been talking to people who knew least one of the suspects.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Anderson, we're here in Cambridge.