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Older Boston Bombing Suspect Had Posted Jihadist Video on YouTube; Younger Bombing Suspect In Serious But Stable Condition, Unable To Speak; Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Returned To College Campus After Bombing
Aired April 21, 2013 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting live from Boston.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. Welcome to this special edition of the CNN NEWSROOM. Wolf.
BLITZER: We're learning, Fred, new developments in the Boston Marathon bombing suspect investigation, new exclusive information about a jihadist video that the older brother, the 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had posted on his YouTube account. We're going to show you that in just a few moments. Stand by for that.
But first, I want to update all of our viewers on the surviving suspect, the younger brother, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He's still hospitalized in what doctors describe as serious but stable condition.
A federal official says he has injuries to his throat. He's unable to speak. He could be charged, though, by federal prosecutors as early as today right at his hospital bedside. You just heard that from the attorney general of Massachusetts, Martha Coakley, in our interview here in Boston.
For more, though, on what's going on, let's bring in our crime and justice correspondent Joe Johns. He's working his sources over at the Justice Department, the FBI, elsewhere.
What are officials telling you, Joe, about this proceeding? A truly extraordinary proceeding that could happen at the hospital at the suspect's bedside.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, our sources have told us it's possible we could see charges against this suspect today, but there's no guarantee and not clear at all when a presentment of the suspect before a judge or a magistrate actually might happen.
We heard as recently as yesterday that authorities were contemplating a terrorism charge, most likely relating to use of a weapon of mass destruction.
There's also a possibility of a state murder charge as well, as well as a firearm charge, perhaps use of a firearm in commission of a felony, conspiracy certainly is out there because authorities allege that this suspect worked on all of this with his brother, Wolf. BLITZER: And I want you to show our viewers, Joe, some of the new video of the suspect's dramatic capture Friday night in a Boston suburb, Watertown.
What does it show us?
JOHNS: Well, Wolf, this is video of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the boat. It was taken from above. Some of it was -- oh, I'm sorry; this here is video of the individual that you have been reporting on for a while.
But the video you're talking about, there were initial reports of a man down in the boat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS (voice-over): They quickly learned he was moving around. There you go. We knew that authorities were reaching out to this individual, trying to communicate with him, telling him, for example, to come out on his own terms.
This apparently went on for about 25 minutes or so. And then after that short amount of time, he ended up surrendering to the authorities with a very serious injury, Wolf.
BLITZER (voice-over): So we're just standing by. We're waiting for official word from the Justice Department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I assume the initial word will come in Washington. This is a federal prosecution that's in the works. Official word will come from the Justice Department in Washington.
Is that right, Joe?
JOHNS: That's highly likely because, as you said, this is something that Washington is going to be very heavily involved in. We have hopes that we'll see a news conference if charges are filed against this individual, but it's all up to the authorities. And we're just waiting and watching the email to see what happens now.
BLITZER: We'll hear what Eric Holder, if he shows us, the attorney general of the United States, has to say.
Joe, we'll stay in close touch with you.
Meanwhile, any moment now, we're going to hear from the family of the police officer who was wounded chasing these two bombing suspects the other night. The family of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Officer Richard Donohue Jr. will be meeting with reporters shortly.
We're going to have live coverage of that as soon as begins. We're going to hear what the family of Richard Donohue has to say.
We're also learning more about the suspects from the Russian republic of Dagestan, where the suspects once lived. Nick Paton Walsh traveled to the region. It's near Chechnya.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER (voice-over): I want to pick up on this jihadist video that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother, had on his YouTube channel, a video that has since been deleted.
Nick, what can you tell us about the man who was featured in this jihadi video?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What you say, this is a video which was linked to -- from his YouTube channel, since deleted, taken down. We have subsequently found that video online, and it shows a man called Abu Dujana, that's his kind of nickname here, widely reported to be a man called Agadu Morad Abdulgatov (ph).
Now he's a militant, reasonably well known in the parts, accused of many different crimes by the authorities, but importantly, not far from where I'm standing, in a pretty heavy firefight with Russian Special Forces, only in December the Russians had to bring in an armored car to end this particular firefight. He was killed along with a number of accomplices.
Now we have been to the site of the destruction of this, quite intense here. So what we have at this particular point is potentially the first connection between one of the alleged Boston bombers and some sort of extremism or militancy here in the North Caucasus.
Now that is purely down to this link from his YouTube channel, but I should point out also that, at roughly the same time, he was in Mahachkalev (ph), seeing his family, as, of course, Mr. Abdulgatov (ph) was here.
So another connection, though, at all, no confirmation if the men ever met or if quite simply Mr. Tsarnaev was posting that video out of other some form of interest at all.
But we do know a U.S. intelligence official is saying to us they are examining his social media for links towards any kind of extremism here in the North Caucasus, and of course many people are still asking themselves what was the motivation behind the Boston bombers if Mr. Tsarnaev was one of them, Wolf.
BLITZER: Lots of unanswered questions what the older brother did during those six months he spent in Dagestan, and maybe in Chechnya last year. All right. Stand by, Nick. We're going to be coming back to you.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is now hospitalized; he's in serious but stable condition. Doctors say he's lucky to be alive after that dramatic shootout with police officers that wound up killing his older brother. Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, standing outside the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where he's being treated.
What do we know about his condition specifically, Elizabeth? ELIZABETH COHEN, SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, according to our affiliate, WHGH, Tsarnaev is in the intensive care unit, and CNN sources tell us that he had -- or sources tell CNN that he has wounds to the throat and that he is sedated and intubated.
So let's talk a little bit about what last part means. Intubation means that a tube is placed, usually down the throat into the windpipe and is attached to a ventilator and that ventilator breathes for him.
It doesn't mean that he can't breathe. It's very often when patients have a large loss of blood, doctors prefer that the machine breathe rather than the patient breathe. It puts less of a burden, less strain on the patient. And people are almost always sedated when they're intubated. They are really quite out of it, really not able to hold a conversation, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Elizabeth, there could be some dramatic developments over at the hospital where you are. We're going to get back to you. We'll see if a magistrate or a judge actually shows up to notify this suspect at bedside about potential charges, what's going on. All right. Stand by, Elizabeth.
Certainly, building a case against the Boston bombing suspects is going to be intense. We're going to show you the brand new jihadist video that we have just discovered. It could become part of the investigation.
And as Boston tries to recover, another community, another community is also dealing with its own tragedy. Remembering the victims of the Texas plant explosion as they're laid to rest. Much more of our special coverage from here in Boston and around the country when we come back.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back to this special edition of the NEWSROOM from both Atlanta and Boston with my colleague, Wolf Blitzer.
So, Wolf, the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth is once again open.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD (voice-over): The campus where the teen bombing suspect was a student was evacuated Friday as police tried to track him down. He, of course, was found in Watertown, but school officials confirm that he had been back on campus after that attack. Our Chris Lawrence is there.
So Chris, when were students officially allowed back on campus?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just a few hours ago, Brooke, and I can tell you we have some new information to report this afternoon.
Just a couple minutes ago, we spoke with a student here on campus, who said that he saw Dzhokhar Tsarnaev just a day after the bombing, and that Dzhokhar actually talked about the bombing. He said he saw Dzhokhar at the gym.
He came up to him and he brought up the bombing, telling Dzhokhar, "Man, can you believe what happened? I thought that stuff only happened in Iraq or Afghanistan with those bombs."
He said Dzhokhar told him something to the effect of, yes, man, I mean, tragedies can happen anywhere in the world. He said Dzhokhar seemed tired but otherwise showed no indication of anything that had happened on Monday.
This just gives new context to what was happening with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as investigators were combing through those videos looking for their suspect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE (voice-over): The helicopters came and left campus. SWAT teams and investigators culled potential evidence from the dorm, but they couldn't answer students' biggest question: why did the teenager they knew as Dzhokhar return to campus after the Boston Marathon bombings?
LAWRENCE: Are you surprised that after what happened on Monday that he could come back to the dorms, go work out at the gym, maybe go to a party?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I'm very -- I'm really surprised because, like, why would you come -- why would he come back? Come back for what? Like it's not possible to come back to live a normal life.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): But that's exactly what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did. He came back to college like nothing happened.
HARRY DANSO, UMASS DARTMOUTH STUDENT: He was in the hallway, just said hi, and that's it, he just walked past me.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Less than 48 hours after the bombing, Harry Danso was making small talk with Tsarnaev in the dorm they shared.
LAWRENCE: Did he seem upset, scared, nervous?
DANSO: No, he just acted regular. He just gave me a regular smile like usual.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Students have to swipe their IDs to get into buildings here. UMass Dartmouth officials confirm Tsarnaev's ID was swiped at his dorm and the gym.
JAY HONGOA, BOMBING SUSPECT'S FRIEND: Well, I was just shocked I was just grateful that, you know, he didn't place the bomb in our building, you know, in our hallway. We live right next to the guy.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Jay Hongoa is a friend of Tsarnaev's, who can't comprehend how normal things seemed between Monday's bombing and Friday's capture.
HONGOA: Like Dr. Jekyll Hyde, one minute, you know, like one minute you do something like that and the next minute you're totally OK.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): One student told us Dzhokhar rarely talked about politics, but when he did, it was about his home country.
AUSTIN HIGHTOWER,BOMBING SUSPECT'S FRIEND: Then we just talked about like life in Chechnya and like the -- what is going on there and how nationalist the people in Chechnya are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE: And again, for the first time, just this afternoon, just a few minutes ago, we heard from a student who said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did speak about the bombing to another student just a day after it happened, Fred.
WHITFIELD: But not boasting or bragging about it?
LAWRENCE: No, no. He said that he actually brought it up because he saw him in the gym. And he said, I would see him in the gym all the time. Normally he would come up to me, talk to me. We knew each other.
And he said maybe he didn't see me, so I walked up to him, said hi. I brought up the bombing because it was all everybody on campus was talking about at that time. And he said Dzhokhar seemed normal, a little bit tired, but that he did comment on it and said, yes, something to the effect of tragedies can happen anywhere in the world; it's too bad.
WHITFIELD: All right, Chris Lawrence, thanks so much, at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
So a profile of the suspects is beginning to emerge. I want to bring in our Wolf Blitzer in Boston there; Tom Fuentes is in D.C. He's a former FBI assistant director and CNN analyst. And Jeff Beatty is also a former CIA counterterrorism officer.
So, Jeff, let me begin with you and ask you about this jihadist video that we have learned Tamerlan Tsarnaev had on his YouTube channel. It has since been taken off his account, but it was there. CNN was able to retrieve it.
So how important is this piece to this puzzle?
JEFF BEATTY, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICER: Well, Fredricka, I think it certainly shows what somebody's indications are, what their inclinations are, what their beliefs are, what are the thing they ascribe to? They're not going to post it on their website unless it's something that they believe in.
And so, therefore, I think it's going to be an important piece of evidence as the case unfolds further on. WHITFIELD: And Jeff, do you feel like, as the investigation continues, as questions continue to be asked about Tamerlan's visit most recently to Russia when he was there between six and nine months, depending on who you talk to, whether there will be information that will be extrapolated there that might indeed help substantiate that he may have become extremist or he may have kind of learned new training or gotten new dealings with any extremist groups?
BEATTY: Well, I tell you, Fredricka, people have to understand -- and in all fairness to our national security apparatus, the NSA, FBI and others, you know, it's one thing to be able to monitor somebody here in the United States, their Internet activities, et cetera.
But when somebody leaves the country because they respect our capabilities and they go to another country, and they go in an Internet cafe, they establish a fresh account and they maybe make contacts there or as Al Qaeda has started to move more and more to, they go old school, respecting the U.S. electronic capabilities, they now are more involved in personal meetings, all in an effort to thwart surveillance.
So a very difficult surveillance challenge for our personnel, and you also have a heavy reliance on a liaison service, that, you know, you don't know if you're going to get everything that you want to be getting from that liaison service in these other countries.
WHITFIELD: And, Wolf, I know you have questions as well. You're right there with Jeff.
BLITZER: You know, Jeff -- thanks, Fred.
They found a lot of other explosives at these two brothers' apartment, other pressure cookers, other explosives, pipe bombs, all the ingredients to build more bombs. I guess the suspicion is this is what law enforcement authorities have told me over the past few days. These two brothers, if they would have gotten away with it, they were going to do more of this down the road.
BEATTY: Well, I think you're absolutely right, Wolf. There was actually kind of another side to that coin. Either they were going to do more and that's what these other explosives were for, or perhaps when we -- we are aware now that there was a third pressure cooker bomb.
Was there in fact a third perpetrator who was supposed to join them on the day of the Boston Marathon? Was that bomb built for that person to put in place at the same time?
So while we optimistically are hopeful that we have accounted for everybody who is a part of this attack on the marathon, we can't yet rule it out. So those other explosives could have two explanations, other perpetrators or other attacks.
BLITZER: Yes. I'm going to bring Tom Fuentes, the former FBI assistant director, into this conversation in a moment. Where did they get the explosives, who paid for the explosives, who trained these guys to build these explosives, questions that we're going to continue to explore here as our special coverage continues right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back, back with our co-anchor, Fredricka Whitfield. She's joining us from the CNN Center.
Tom Fuentes is also here from D.C. He's a former assistant director of the FBI, now a CNN analyst.
Also joining us, the CIA counterterrorism officer, Jeff Beatty.
Questions are being asked about how the FBI handled the investigation of the older brother, what is happening internally at the agency right now. All of these questions serious questions.
But, Tom Fuentes, let me bring you into this conversation right now.
Based on the fact that they did discover a whole lot of other explosives, another pressure cooker, can we assume these two brothers were planning on more bombings if, in fact, they would have gotten away from the two Boston Marathon bombings?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Wolf, I think we can more or less assume that that probably was in the intent or they were saving it, if they had a last standoff, that they would detonate at the time that they were cornered and if they had an opportunity, let's say, to do it that way.
Also raises the question that this is exactly the whole issue, going back to the Miranda, if he had the public safety concern of what were those explosive devices intended for? That's one of the reasons they wanted to talk to him or one of the things they wanted to talk to him about at the time before they realized how severely hurt he was.
So it absolutely proves the point that there could have more attacks planned or there could be another person that was part of it that, maybe at the last minute, didn't do it.
Another reason to think there was more planned is that's why they didn't probably kill themselves at the time of the original attack at the marathon; they wanted to live to attack another day.
BLITZER: Jeff, somebody must have trained them. Can you learn how to build a bomb by yourself just by going to the Internet and blithely go out there, go to a Home Depot or some place and just buy this kind of stuff?
BEATTY: Well, you know, you could -- you could try to learn, but what you would certainly want to do is you would want to rehearse. You don't want to go through the operational energy that it would take to mount an attack like at the marathon without having a fair degree of confidence that your device is going to work. So probably, they were trained by others. But it is possible to train yourself.
But in all cases, you would probably do a rehearsal. You would make sure that your mechanism was going to fight -- was going to fire, rather.
And so we probably will find out that some of the noises heard in the Boston area -- explosions, et cetera -- in previous months and weeks, may, in fact, be related to rehearsals that these individuals undertook to make sure they were going to be successful on the day.
BLITZER: Fredricka Whitfield has got questions as well.
Go ahead, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Well, Tom, I'm wondering what kind of information or evidence would you hope would be collected from these brothers' apartment, the place that they lived, perhaps their gym lockers? Perhaps even their Twitter or Facebook accounts?
What kind of information or evidence are you hoping really might help establish this case?
FUENTES: Well, first of all, the paraphernalia that you could link directly to the marathon bombing. For example, do you find wires that match the wires in those devices? Do you find wire cutters that tool mark identification examiners can compare and say these wire cutters cut one or more of the wires recovered from those bombings?
So any evidence that links them for sure to the marathon bombing devices and to the additional explosives that have been recovered since would be very significant.
Then if you find computers with Internet information on them, maybe additional telephones, phone books, references; there could be other paraphernalia, documents that indicate that there are more people involved or maybe you find a map with circles on it to say what future targets might have been intended. So there's a wealth of information that could be obtained from that kind of a search.
WHITFIELD: And, Jeff, are you convinced that these two brothers worked together and exclusively or especially as a result of the video that we're seeing that was on one of the brothers', the older brother's YouTube account, that perhaps they may have been working with others?
BEATTY: Well, you know, this -- you really are hitting on a great question, Fredricka. And it's a question the United States, from a policy perspective, is going to have to look at in the future.
You know, we allowed for drone strikes to take out U.S. citizens overseas because they were directly involved with the Al Qaeda war against the United States.
The underwear bomber, he was directed by al-Awlaki to press home his attack. So that was the justification for going after him.
So the bottom line is we're going to have to determine what constitutes direction, what constitutes encouragement? And this is a gray area.
Was there direct contact, was there a direct tasking? Were they blessed in a video made, perhaps, that would be played after their death?
FUENTES: I want to make another comment.
WHITFIELD: Oh, go ahead, Tom.
FUENTES: Yes, I would just like to say that, you know, looking at that video, the person seen in the video, the terrorist in the video, he gets killed, but he's killed by the Russians.
And so right now, the other attacks that have been done from the other regions have been situations where there have been American soldiers or operations carried out in those countries. There have been drone attacks where citizens of those countries have been killed, or military actions on the ground like SEAL teams coming in and other military resources, so that's something we have not had.
We have not had American drones or American military boots on the grounds in the Caucasus region of southwestern Russia all during the time, going back to the early '90s, that the Chechens were at war with Russia, not with the United States.
WHITFIELD: Tom Fuentes, Jeff Beatty, thanks so much.
BEATTY: But the common -- in all --
WHITFIELD: Go ahead.
BEATTY: -- in all fairness, those Chechen fighters were in Afghanistan and elsewhere, so there's a link there.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, guys.
BLITZER: All right, guys, there's a lot to dissect. There certainly is. And we're going to continue our extensive live coverage from here in Boston.
We've all watched as police moved in to capture the Boston bombing suspects. But one guy was right in the middle of it all. You have to see this amazing video that he captured. You have to hear this reporter's story. I'll be speaking with him momentarily. Much more of our special coverage from Boston right after this.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting live from Boston. Fredricka Whitfield is joining us from the CNN Center in Atlanta. We have new information we're watching right now we want to share with you about the Boston Marathon bombing investigation.
CNN can exclusively reveal that the alleged bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev had video of a known jihadist on his personal YouTube channel. The video is of a man named Abu Dujana. He was himself killed by Russian forces last December.
He died in the capital of Dagestan, which is in Russia, where Tamerlan's father currently lives and where Tamerlan spent at least some time, maybe six months, if not more, in 2012. CNN cannot confirm that Tamerlan and Abu Dujana actually met in Dagestan. The video had been deleted from Tamerlan's YouTube account, but was tracked down by CNN.
Here's the latest information on Tamerlan's brother, the surviving 19- year-old suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He's hospitalized. He's described as being in serious but stable condition. A federal official tells CNN he has injuries to his throat and is intubated and sedated.
Despite his condition, Tsarnaev could be formally charged as early as today. A law enforcement source says a judge or magistrate would likely come to the hospital -- that's the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center -- go to his bedside to present those charges.
They're expected to include federal terrorism charges and possibly state murder charges at the same time; could be arraigned later. That's all a formal process.
We also have new information coming in about Tsarnaev's Friday night capture. A law enforcement source tells CNN Tsarnaev actually crawled out of the boat he was hiding in in the Boston suburb of Watertown. The source says he surrendered after about 20 or 25 minutes of negotiations with authorities. CNN captured some of those negotiations on tape and Brian Todd has that.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As he was cornered, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, police say, engaged them with gunfire.
It went on for several minutes, and police lobbed in flash-bang percussions to stun him.
In the end, authorities showed their determination to capture the suspect alive. Listen to officers negotiating with him as he's holed up inside a boat in a backyard in Watertown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come out on your own terms.
Come out with your hands up.
TODD (voice-over): We snaked through alleys and back lots to get to within a couple hundred yards of the boat. During negotiations, there was a word of reassurance...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will not be harmed. TODD (voice-over): ...and an appeal to someone they knew was in pain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know you're bleeding. We know you're tired.
TODD (voice-over): As we shot this exclusive video, police rushed us, saying we were in the crossfire zone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clear out, OK?
Come on; I said please.
TODD (voice-over): It was just minutes later that police captured Tsarnaev. He had lost blood, was weakened.
These pictures from the Massachusetts State Police show thermal imaging from a helicopter of the suspect as he hid in a boat.
The entire neighborhood had been in lockdown, residents terrified as law enforcement went door to door.
After the standoff, we spoke to neighbors.
TODD: Here on Cypress Street, this is one of the houses where police were combing through the neighborhood, looking for the suspect. This is Eddie Beck's house; he took us through what it was like when SWAT teams came through here.
EDDIE BECK, WATERTOWN RESIDENT: They came in. They searched the living room area, dining room, went through all the bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen area and --
TODD: Searched cabinets and things like that?
BECK: No, they didn't go through cabinets or anything like that but they did go through all the bedrooms, closet doors; then they made their way through the back here.
TODD (voice-over): Beck shared his own footage of the SWAT teams combing through his house. During these moments, they didn't know where Tsarnaev was or whether he was carrying explosives on his body. Beck got a chill just thinking about it.
BECK: Knowing that they had him surrounded and so close to our neighborhood, it made us think that he might have been here at nighttime and they kind of flushed him out into that area.
TODD (voice-over): Vivyan Stevens also lives very close to the house where Tsarnaev was cornered.
TODD: How do you feel right now that it's over?
VIVYAN STEVENS, WATERTOWN RESIDENT: Yes, it's surreal. I don't really -- I think I'm numb. I don't really feel -- I guess I can't really believe all this has happened. I know it's happening, but actually -- I mean, I am very happy that it's over and they got him. TODD (voice-over): A sentiment echoed by thousands of her neighbors in Watertown, cheering police as they pulled out after the arrest -- Brian Todd, CNN, Watertown, Massachusetts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: A local Boston reporter gets very close to the story, maybe even a little bit too close, caught in the crossfire as police move in to capture the Boston bombing suspect. I'll speak with that reporter, who found himself right in the middle of it all.
Also coming up, roads turn to rivers across the Midwest, families dealing with the worst -- and more storms actually are on the way right now. We'll go live to the disaster zone; that news and all of the other news coming out of Boston when we come back.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back to this special edition of the NEWSROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. We'll get back to my colleague, Wolf Blitzer in Boston, as the investigation into the marathon bombing intensifies.
But first, some other news we're following. Floodwaters are rising in several Midwestern states after torrential rains drenched the area. A swollen Mississippi River is forcing evacuations and road closures in some areas. Our Jim Spellman is live for us now in Peoria, Illinois.
So, Jim, it looks pretty bad where you are. That water seems pretty high.
JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: About 14 feet above where it normally is right now, Fredricka. This is the Illinois River. It goes right here through the heart of Peoria, Illinois.
This building, the historic River Station here, putting a lot of attention into trying to keep this dry. They're already pumping out rooms in there. You can see people here in boats are doing everything they can to try to prepare for another two feet or so of water.
Here in downtown Peoria along the waterfront, they have erected this sort of handmade levee here, sandbags over Jersey walls. They predict that the water is going to get to just about to right here. So if their predictions are right, they're hoping that most of these businesses here are going to be OK.
If their predictions are off, if any more rain comes or comes higher than they predict, it's going to be big trouble for a lot of these businesses. We were just up in neighboring Peoria Heights, Illinois, several dozen houses already under water there. With two more feet to go in that part of Illinois, there's going to be a lot more homes lost.
But they hope to keep the damage, you know, to a minimum with all of these preparations they have gone through here, Fredricka. WHITFIELD: So of those homes that have been hit by high water, have there been emergency situations? Any rescues?
SPELLMAN: They have had a good warning. Up in Chicago, it was Thursday when they really got hit by this storm. All that water is making its way down here, 150 or so miles down here, maybe 200 miles down here. So there's sort of a delay effect. That's really worked to their advantage. It's given them time to build this -- these walls here.
And up in these neighborhoods, where we saw these homes that had taken on water, people knew it was coming. They were able to get not only things like their documents and their family photos out, but even all of their furniture out of some of the homes.
Unfortunately, the damage is profound in some of these homes. One family we spoke to said after 13 years they're just not going to be able to come back.
WHITFIELD: Wow, all right. A terrible situation. All right, Jim Spellman, thanks so much from Peoria.
We're going to take you back to Boston momentarily, where a reporter found himself in the middle of a police takedown and the cameras were rolling. But this was no ordinary story, as you know. It was the capture. It was that moment where the Boston bombing suspect was captured. Now, the reporter is telling his story to CNN.
And she is already a hero and a winner at the Boston Marathon. Then she moved on to the London Marathon and paid tribute there to the Boston victims.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back to this special edition of the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield here in Atlanta. We'll get back to Boston and Wolf Blitzer in a moment.
Overseas in London, the runners in another marathon race are remembering the bombings in Boston.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD (voice-over): Take a look at this video from the BBC, a huge crowd despite the concerns about safety. The London Marathon went on as planned, 35,000 strong -- extraordinary.
Participants observed a moment of silence to pay tribute to those killed and injured in Boston.
And in the wheelchair division in London, an Ethiopian racer won for a second time. The woman who won the Boston wheelchair competition also raced in London. Here is Erin McLaughlin with her story.
ERIC MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was her first Boston Marathon. Tatyana McFadden had won. She placed first in the women's wheelchair division.
TATYANA MCFADDEN, BOSTON MARATHON WHEELCHAIR WINNER: My family was there. And you know, they had tears in their eyes of joy, and we celebrated a little bit at the finish line.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Hours after she finished her race, the bombers struck.
MCFADDEN: We went into a lockdown. Firefighters were running through our hotel to make sure there was nothing in our hotel, going into all the bathrooms. We immediately moved to the lobby.
MCLAUGHLIN: That must have been terrifying.
MCFADDEN: Yes. It was just chaos.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Tatyana is no stranger to tragedy. She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, with a hole in her spine, a condition known as spina bifida. Disabled and unwanted, she was sent to live in an orphanage.
MCFADDEN: I walked on my hand in the orphanage, no wheelchair. I just hung on to life and I had a lot of hope.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Hope arrived when her new adoptive mother, working in Russia for the U.S. Health Department, took notice of the sickly little girl.
MCFADDEN: I knew when my mom walked through that door that she was going to be my mom and life definitely changed for me.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Tatyana was brought to the United States.
MCFADDEN: I had many surgeries to even sit like this. The doctors thought I had minimal time to live and that I was just too sick.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): She played sports to help her recovery and Tatyana thrived in the athletic world.
Now an elite wheelchair racer, she hopes her story will inspire others.
MCLAUGHLIN: Many of the victims of the Boston blasts lost limbs, the road to recovery likely to be a long and arduous process.
What advice would you give them?
MCFADDEN: It's not going to be easy, for sure. But we can just live a normal life like everyone else can, you know, even if we're in a wheelchair or if you're wearing prosthetics.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And a reporter finds himself in the crossfire of a police takedown in Boston and the cameras are rolling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD (voice-over): You have to see this video. And this guy's story is quite amazing. Wolf Blitzer will be talking to him in Boston next.
BLITZER: The sounds of gunfire and explosions filled the air as suspect number one, as he was called, was killed in a gunfight with Watertown police last week. WHDH anchor and reporter Adam Williams was on the scene. He saw it all firsthand. Take a listen and watch this, his riveting account of what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAM WILLIAMS, WHDH ANCHOR/REPORTER: I'm behind the car. I'm hearing multiple gunshots. We're with police -- we're with police right now and we're trying to stay back right now, but we are surrounded by police.
And we're seeing police running, guns drawn. And we have heard multiple gunshots. I'm actually standing behind the car right now. It's just not a good position to be in. The officers are putting on bulletproof vests.
We have police running, all guns drawn around me right now. There are probably 10 different cruisers and officers getting out of their cars, guns drawn. They're running all around me right now. When we pulled up, the cars stopped around me, three cars. I heard probably 20 gunshots. And I'm just staying down, using the car as shelter. I've never in my life been in a situation like this.
When he we pulled up, multiple, multiple gunshots. I'm so close to them that I could smell the gunpowder from where we are set up right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible), move, move, move.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).
WILLIAMS: They -- I believe they have the suspect in custody. I'm going to get down. And I'm -- we have officers right now pointing their guns at somebody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up. Back up.
WILLIAMS: They're backing up, though. They're backing up. They're backing up. Everybody is running here. The police are backing up. They've got 10 officers with their guns drawn, but they are backing up and they're running back toward us. We're all taking cover right now behind the different news vehicles. Even the police, though, are taking cover behind their cars.
I'm going to run back. But I'm -- (CROSSTALK)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take cover.
WILLIAMS: (Inaudible) right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Adam, go, yes, go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Adam, take cover.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And Adam Williams is joining us right now. Pretty harrowing experience. You never went through anything like that. And you're like -- when you were taking cover, where were you taking cover?
WILLIAMS: I was actually behind the door of our news vehicle. There, at the time when all of this was going on, there were -- there was our news car and about five police officers. This is before the army of police came in.
So I started behind our door. But then when I saw the officers with their guns backing up, I knew we were in a pretty serious situation. So then I would run and get behind another car. You know, I was saying that, in our coverage that the bullets, when we arrived, they weren't coming at us but they were going right by us. We were hearing explosions. There were gunshots going right by us.
From -- and it seemed like from every direction. So your first instinct is to take cover wherever you can.
BLITZER: I take it you are not necessarily a war correspondent. You didn't have a lot of experience covering gunfire like this.
WILLIAMS: Not at all. You've been in those zones. I have not. And it felt like -- you know, seeing the officers with the helmets and putting their bulletproof vests on -- and I guess that's when the journalistic instinct kicks in, to stay safe but then to carry the story at the same time.
BLITZER: How scared were you?
WILLIAMS: At the time I think I was just in the mode of doing my job, of giving the information as accurately and as aggressively as I could. It wasn't until after the fact -- and especially learning that within feet of us was indeed the bombing suspects -- when I learned that, I think that's when it sunk in how vulnerable we were in that situation.
BLITZER: Yes. That's a normal kind of thing. Your adrenalin is pumping. You're in the middle of it. And then later you say to yourself, wow, it's pretty scary, pretty frightening. You were in a dangerous, dangerous situation. And that report that we just saw, was that live on TV or were you filming it for air later?
WILLIAMS: No, that was live while it was happening. And I got to give credit to my photographer, who was able to capture those pictures. He was taking partial cover behind a police car just enough to get the lens over to capture the video, but we were live on the phone as it was happening.
And frankly, we didn't know what was going on. Before we even got to the scene, the sounds of explosions were so intense that we could hear them in our car. We had the police radios blaring, trying to figure out the information. And we heard boom, boom, we got out of our car. And the booming continued and we heard gunfire exchange, then a lot of yelling -- intense, to say the least.
BLITZER: You didn't know this was the climax, this was the end of that hunt?
WILLIAMS: Didn't know it. Didn't know it until later on. We just knew that whatever was going on it wasn't your typical shooting. It was more than that.
We heard the explosions. We heard 200 rounds of gunshots. We knew it was something big. We knew we were close.
But as you would do as well, the first instinct was to get on the air and cover it and it was important because Watertown is a town of eight square miles, 32,000 people. Everybody there heard it. Everybody wanted to know what was going on and it was our job to let them know what was going on.
BLITZER: The police let you stay there. They weren't pushing you aside or saying get out of here or anything like that.
WILLIAMS: Police were so focused. When we got there, like I said, there was maybe five officers. Their number one priority was protecting themselves, the public, apprehending this person, doing what they needed to do. They didn't even notice us in the beginning. It wasn't until a minute or two of our coverage that they were like, get them back along with everybody else. Because at this point, there were a - we actually became trapped in the crime scene. Because where we parked we had police cars all around us. The perimeter hadn't been set up yet. So they did get us out of there once they kind of got control of themselves.
BLITZER: Which is their job.
Just step back a second. How has this affected the community here? What has happened over the past week?
WILLIAMS: Well, I'll start with the positive. It's made us stronger. It's given us a new spirit but it's also made us more vigilant. I was reporting from the scene over the last couple of days and I got to be honest with you, a coffee cup fell out of our live truck and it made a small crash and everyone around us jumped. I was talking to a lady inside this hotel before I came on the air with you and she said "I don't know that I'll ever be able to walk down Boylston again," the street behind us where this happened. I think it's put us all on alert but again to stay positive, it's given us a spirit and people are hugging each other. You've had that video after the suspect number two was an apprehended. People were hugging strangers, hugging me. I think it's brought a new spirit.
BLITZER: I think everybody who walks around and they see maybe a bag that's there by itself, they're going to have a new sense of fear now, what's in that bag, are they going to call local authorities right away. I'm sure they will.
WILLIAMS: And I would be willing to bet anything that at next year's Boston Marathon and that other events backpacks might not even be allowed. It is going to change everything. That's imminent. It is going to change everything.
BLITZER: These kinds of incidents - Adam, thanks very much for joining us. Appreciate it very much. You going to go back to work now?
WILLIAMS: Back to work, back to the studio, yes.
BLITZER: Adam Williams, good reporting as you did under pretty difficult circumstances from our affiliate, WHDH.