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Investigators Question Suspect; More Attacks May Have Been Planned

Aired April 22, 2013 - 12:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The size of the boat. Here's the latest information that we have. A source with firsthand knowledge of the investigation tells us that the 19-year-old suspect is on a ventilator, heavily sedated. He was shot in the neck. He's unable to speak right now. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, he is communicating with authorities. An interview team goes into the room to question him every few hours. Their questions have focused mainly, we're told, on finding out if there are other bombs, weapons or accomplices. We're told he responds by nodding or shaking his head.

A Justice Department official tells CNN that federal authorities could soon file terrorism charges against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Boston will fall silent at 2:50 this afternoon for the victims of the bombing. President Obama will also observe a moment of silence. Also, bells will ring to mark the moment when the bombs first went off.

The surviving suspect is lying in a hospital bed right now, handcuffed, under 24 hour guard. And even though he is still in serious condition, as we said, investigators are questioning him every few hours with the doctors in the room with them. We are getting new information about this suspect and how the investigation is done. Deborah Feyerick joins us in New York. Don Lemon is outside Beth Israel Hospital in Boston.

Deb, let me start with you. What are you learning?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we can tell you that investigators and doctors are staying close by the alleged suspect. He is on a ventilator. He is heavily sedated. He's also restrained. And one of the reasons is because they don't want him, when he does wake up, when he is sort of -- when he does wake up, they don't want him to rip the ventilator out of his mouth. They're really trying to keep him as calm and as stable as they possibly can. They don't want any additional stress to the body.

But what we are being told is every couple of hours, every several hours, investigators will go in and, in the presence of doctors, they are asking him questions. Now, this could be in writing because the suspect may have sustained some hearing loss during that shootout and the flash bang grenades that were going off at that time. But investigators are asking basic questions, they are safety questions. Are there any more bombs? Is there a bomb stash? Are there any weapons? And also, was anyone else involved? Even a nod of the head could obviously direct them to continue looking. And they're trying to pursue all avenues as far as that concerned. We are told by a source whose being briefed that he did sustain several injuries, one of them to his lower extremities. We're told in the upper leg region. And that's where he may have sustained the greatest amount of blood loss.

He then did have a neck injury, but we're not sure, we're not clear exactly how he got that neck wound or where he got that neck wound. Whether it was in the final moments before he was arrested. He was moving inside the boat. He managed to get out on to the side of the boat. And from there, we are told, that he fell. He fell onto the ground about six feet from where he was. So you could imagine a boy who has been a man, a suspect, a terror suspect who has not only been wounded, he's sustained great blood loss, he hasn't eaten, he's dehydrate and then that sort of final fall onto the ground and that's where law enforcement sources basically handcuffed him and put him in the ambulance that took him to the hospital.

So he is communicating with them. He is allowed to nod. He's just allowed to nod to investigators when they're asking him questions. They're waiting for him to increasingly become more aware and get out of that sedation so that they can talk to him at greater lengths, Anderson.

COOPER: And, Don Lemon, you've got some information about who's questioning the suspect.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I certainly do. And to add to what Deborah said, who's questioning the suspect. It's a group called the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group. And this group was established seven or eight years ago. It was after the capture of Saddam Hussein and the interrogation of Saddam Hussein. And what Homeland Security realized then is that they needed one specific group with global knowledge of terrorism, international knowledge of terrorism, to go in to question these high-value detainees rather than a local person who has knowledge of the local area, local municipalities, but didn't necessarily have global knowledge of terrorism. And so that's the group that's going in.

And I spoke with a former FBI agent who worked with that particular group. And I said to him, I said, what types of questions might they be asking him? And he said, I would imagine they're asking him about his brother's trip, about rhetoric, associates, plans, other devices, alternate plans, others involved, where the ideology came from, is his dad involved? Anything to get him talking about why he put devices where he did.

Did he see the kids? Did his brother tell him how to pick a good place? Where did the money come from? Where did they build a bomb? How did they learn? Who built them? Any help? Encouragement? Anything going on at the mosque? Any good books you've read lately.

And I said back to this former FBI agent, this early on, while he's medicated, he can't talk. He has a throat wound. And he says, this may be their only opportunity. He said, they would, you're right, take it slow at this point because they want to build a rapport, they want to get him to trust them, they want to treat him with dignity and respect and give him some hope. And the way they may be doing this questioning, Anderson, is by what they call a sedation holiday, where they ease off on the medication a bit so that he is cognizant, that he is conscious and he is aware enough to answer those questions, as Deb said, either by nodding or by writing them down.

COOPER: Interesting. Don, appreciate that. Deb Feyerick as well.

The focus now is on the search, obviously, for answers and on filing charges against the surviving suspect. Boston's police commissioner says it's likely the two brothers were planning more attacks. He says the explosives, the firepower that they had suggests - and that officials found suggests they did intend to strike again.


COMMISSIONER ED DAVIS, BOSTON POLICE: The two suspects were armed with handguns at the scene of the shootout. And there were multiple explosive devices, including a large one that was similar to the pressure cooker device that was found on Boylston Street. I saw that with my own eyes. I believe that the only reason that someone would have those in their possession was to further attack people and cause more death and destruction.


COOPER: Want to talk more about the investigation and possible charges against the suspect. I'm joined by CNN national security analyst and "Boston Globe" columnist Juliette Kayyem, also our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is in New York with us.

Let's start with you. Does the arsenal -- what does their arsenal suggest to you?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, for me, having been in counterterrorism, it suggests that - and this is just what we know now - sophisticated terrorist attacks often have what we call redundancies. There's different groups of people ready to attack. So we saw that in London July 7th attack.

In this instance, it appears that there was no other people involved for that immediate attack. And so the fact that they were in possession of this entire arsenal, throwing out explosives, with the guns, means that possibly it was just them. And we say possibly a lot now, because an investigation is unfolding.

But this idea that the fact that they were heavily armed and had lots of explosives therefore means that there was a bigger conspiracy is just not true. There's a lot of evidence cutting both ways.

COOPER: The other thing I don't understand is, I mean they seem to have planned out this attack very well.

KAYYEM: Right. Right.

COOPER: But not really planned out what would happen afterward. I mean the idea that -- did they not realize that all these cameras around? I mean you have this young 19-year-old suspect -

KAYYEM: Right.

COOPER: Who was attending classes, who was going to the gym, going to parties on the campus after the attack.

KAYYEM: And that's exactly right, Anderson, and that really does cut to this notion that sort of their sophistication level. What we know today is not what we knew Thursday night and so part of that gets into sort of the decisions on the lockdown, which some people are complaining about today.

But really, I mean, the truth is, is that it didn't appear that they had sort of an exit strategy. And since they weren't suicide bombers, you sort of wonder what were they actually thinking. That's what they're trying to get out.

The most important thing is, at least from Ed Davis, the police commissioner, there's no sort of particular threat right now to the city. And as we were talking about earlier, the recovery is - you know, we have the investigation going on. The recovery is simultaneously going on, which is really important to the city as well.

COOPER: And Jeff Toobin, our legal analyst. I should point out, CNN has tracked down a video clip that was linked to his YouTube channel from a militant jihadist. Obviously that's something that authorities are going to be looking at.

Jeff, sources tell us that the suspect now, Dzhokhar, is communicating with officials in some rudimentary way nodding yes or no. They've chosen to question him without reading him Miranda rights. What does that mean for any information they might be getting?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's very important to the people -- we've been talking a lot about Miranda, and I think it's important for people to understand what it does and doesn't mean. If you are questioned without your Miranda rights, all that means is that the statements that you make cannot be used against you in a criminal court. They can be used against other people. They can be used as leads to other inquiries. And you can still be prosecuted with lots of other evidence. But all it means is that those statements cannot be used against you.

From what it certainly appears, there is lots of other evidence against this fellow. So the fact that the government might be giving up the chance to use some of it is not much of a sacrifice on the part of the government.

COOPER: He also, at this point, could indicate that he wants an attorney and doesn't want to answer any questions, correct? I mean he has that right.

TOOBIN: Absolutely. Even when - even when someone doesn't get Miranda rights, the statements still have to be voluntary. He can't be tortured. He can't be waterboarded. He can't be mistreated. But if he wants to answer questions without his Miranda warnings, the government can ask him these questions and follow-up on them.

COOPER: And in terms of filing of charges, how likely do you think that is today?

TOOBIN: You know, I -- that's very - that's very hard for me to tell from this - from this distance. He has to be in a position where he can understand what's being told to him so he can understand the charges. He has to be able to communicate with a lawyer. From the sound of it, he's not really in any position to have actual conversations. And, frankly, there's not a huge rush. He's not going anywhere. It is better probably to have him understand what's going on in a full way rather than rush to have an arraignment when he's obviously not getting out on bail and the legal process is just in it's very, very early stages.

COOPER: Yes, early stages, certainly.

Jeff Toobin, thanks. Juliette Kayyem as well.

With so much attention focused on the suspected bombers, we, of course, want to focus on the victims in this tragedy. The funeral for Krystle Campbell, as we've been telling you, underway right now. She's the 29-year-old killed while watching the marathon with a friend near the finish line. The mass is at St. Joseph's Church in Medford, Massachusetts. Her family asked that cameras not be allowed inside. There you see her being brought to the service.

Campbell went to the marathon almost every single year. She's being called hard-working, a popular restaurant manager, was more than willing to get her hands dirty and support her staff. Her grandmother says she was always smiling, a big help to her when she recovered from a medical procedure. Hundreds of people showed up for Campbell's wake, which happened yesterday, with the line stretching around the block. So many people wanted to pay their respects. She died just a few weeks shy of her 30th birthday.

Dozens of people wounded in the bombings are still in the hospital one week after the attacks. We are just learning 50 of them are still hospitalized, two in critical condition. At least a dozen have had to go through amputations, but doctors say most of them are making very, very good progress.


DR. JEFFREY KALISH, BOSTON MEDICAL CENTER: Nearly all of the patients that have lost legs are already walking halls with physical therapists. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of safety, a lot of practice. And they have to learn new routines. But we're all gearing up for a mass exodus to rehab hopefully in -- during this upcoming week. So, we're all - we're all looking forward to that.


COOPER: Also, Boston Police say the transit officer, who was gravely wounded in the firefight with the suspect, that he's improving. They're very optimistic about his recovery. So that's a piece of good news for you right there.

With one suspect dead, it's hard to put all the pieces together for investigators. His wife is talking through her attorney. This hour, you'll hear what she has to say about her husband.

Then, while the investigation continues, Boston is getting back to business. This is our special coverage the Boston bombings. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the Boston bombings.

Investigators are obviously still trying to understand all they can about 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

He was a seemingly normal college kid, earned a wrestling scholarship, hung out with his friends, an immigrant from the Northern Caucasus region of Russia and of Chechen descent. He even became a naturalized American citizen on September 11th last year.

At least one friend who knew him, however, says he and his older brother suspected they might be under someone else's influence.


LUIS VASQUEZ, KNEW BOTH BOMBING SUSPECTS: He was a follower, and, somewhere down the line, he was brainwashed by somebody who was also probably brainwashed.


COOPER: As recently as January, he returned to his old high school to participate in a wrestling practice with some of his old teammates and some of his old coaches as well.

Emotions are still very raw at the University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth. That's where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a student.

The campus reopened just yesterday after being evacuated last week, but we know that Tsarnaev actually returned there after the bombings and seemed to go on about his life as usual.

That's what's so strange. He spent time with friends, even apparently commented on the bombings. He went to the gym.

Students who knew him said he seemed normal.


ZACH BETTENCOURT, U MASS DARTMOUTH STUDENT: He seemed very nonchalant. He didn't seem like nervous or anything.

I was basically like, yeah, these things happen in like other countries, you know, like maybe Iraq and Afghanistan and stuff like that.

And he's like, yeah, tragedies happen like this all the time and it's sad.


COOPER: Tsarnaev also lived on campus with about 400 other students.

But, again, there's still a lot of information authorities are trying to figure out.

We've learned so much about these two suspected bombers in the week since the tragedy. One person we have not heard a lot about yet is Katherine Russell.

Now, if you don't know her name, she's the 24-year-old wife of the suspect who was killed in the police shootout, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. They have a daughter who's a toddler.

Chris Lawrence has been talking to Katherine Russell's lawyer. Chris joins us now live from North Kingstown in Rhode Island.

Chris, what are you learning about this young woman?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, basically her attorneys said that the first time she heard of all what had happened was by watching the news and that she had no idea at any time of what was going on with her husband.

He says, basically, since those events, she's been distraught, she's been crying a lot, that the family is basically, in his words, "a mess."

He says basically that right now she understands why federal investigators want to speak with her. They're trying to determine how much she may have known, but he is saying she didn't know anything about what was going on.


COOPER: People in the family's Rhode Island neighborhood, I know, have been saying that Katherine Russell started to change a lot kind of under this guy's influence, changed the way she dressed, the way she acted.

What are you hearing about that?

LAWRENCE: Yeah. A little bit of context. We spoke with the attorney about this. He says, look, she goes by Katie. That's what her close friends have called her is Katie.

He says she had gone to college, that she was raised Christian, but she converted to Islam after she married Tamerlan, and she did become a very observant Muslim.

In fact, he told us that she wore a head scarf, which we have seen her wearing in pictures, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Obviously still trying to find out more information.

Has she talked directly to investigators? And are those discussions ongoing? Or is that -- does she need to be interviewed more, do we know?

LAWRENCE: Yeah, they're ongoing. In fact, she was here earlier this morning. Our crews saw her leaving this morning with a laptop and we believe that federal investigators were with her.

We know that investigators have been to this home, her parents' home, at least twice over the past several days trying to speak with her.

When I talked to the attorney, he said, basically, she understands why. She understands that the government is looking at this as a national security threat, and she understands that, and she is talking to them through and with her attorney.

COOPER: All right. Chris, I appreciate that. Thanks very much.

Another story we're following is the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. Homes were blown to pieces, lives destroyed, so many first responders killed.

Over the weekend, some people began returning to what were their homes, and today, students moved into temporary school.

Coming up, a look at how West, Texas is recovering.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not just a community. We're a town. We're all family. We know each other on a nickname basis. It will never be the same around here.



COOPER: Welcome back. I'm Anderson Cooper live in Boston.

Krystle Campbell's funeral has just finished in Medford, Massachusetts. We're seeing her being brought out of the church.

Her casket carried out of St. Joseph's Church. She was 29-years-old, a restaurant manager just weeks shy of her 30th birthday.

Tonight, a memorial will be held also for the 23-year-old Chinese graduate student Lu Lingzi. She was one class away from graduating with a masters from Boston university.

Much more coverage ahead from Boston, but I do want to bring us up-to- date on what's been happening in West, Texas. Take a look. That explosion that devastated parts of West, Texas, took the lives of so many first responders.

In the city of West, they're trying to cope with the death and destruction from the fertilizer plant explosion last week. Fourteen people were killed. including a number of volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel.

Martin Savidge joins us now in West, Texas. Martin, what's the latest? Do they know at this point what caused that explosion?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're working to find that out, Anderson, and really there's an urgency to that investigation because this plant here is like a number of other plants, 6,000 similar plants located in many small town rural communities just like this one all across the country.

Investigators want to find out if what happened here was just something very unique to this particular plant, this facility, or is it something that maybe suggests the problem in handling fertilizer in general? That would mean there's a potential for other communities being at risk.

Investigators are today, once again, back at the plant site, going over what is the obliterated remains of that facility.

And the reason that the large parts of this neighborhood remain blocked off like you see here with the checkpoints is because all of that is considered valuable to the investigation.

The files and the information in the warehouses of that building were destroyed, so it's really going to come down to almost a CSI-type of investigation to determine the cause.

They aren't so much looking at what blew up. They want to know what triggered the fire. That was the first thing the firefighters responded to.

Because if there hadn't been a fire, there wouldn't have been an explosion, so the focus now, what caused that fire, Anderson.

COOPER: And, Martin, so many of the dead were the first responders, firefighters, all volunteers, EMS personnel all volunteers.

SAVIDGE: Yes, they were.

And, you know, in some ways this town -- you have to remember it's very small, 2,600 people. I think the firefighting force was about 33 volunteers.

So in that single blast, that single instant when you look at the numbers, they lost about a third of their firefighters and their EMS force in this town in a single instant, a devastating blow.

It's why it's had such a traumatic effect on top of just the human toll, the injured 200 and 50 homes destroyed, one in ten people in this town injured. The numbers are small overall, but in a community like this, it is huge. And that's why people say it is life altering, life changing in this town.

The good thing, school started today. Routines, getting back to them, that's always so important.

But, even there, many of the students, the four schools in this town, three of them were damaged. That means these kids are going to new classrooms, new hallways, meeting new students.

The high school students, well, they're going to their arch-rival school. They've been welcomed with open arms.

The students there wore their team colors of this town to show their support for them.

COOPER: It's been just devastating for West, Texas. I was down there the day after the blast, tight-knit community, good people, about 2,500 people in that town.

We'll have more from Martin throughout the day.

In the Midwest, people bracing for more snow, more rain which could make for more pictures like this. This is Grand Rapids, Michigan, where streets are waterways under water right now.

Many towns dealing with record setting rains that have caused flooding, hundreds of flight cancellations. Three people so far have died.

Out in the Rockies, one man is lucky to be alive today. He survived an avalanche in the mountains west of Denver.

Five of his friends, they did not make it. They were killed in what's being called Colorado's deadliest avalanche in 50 years.

One victim's father was torn emotionally when speaking of his son.


JOHN PETERS, AVALANCHE VICTIM'S FATHER: What do you say? He was starting to grow and become a, you know, really good man.


COOPER: The snowboarders who died were all in their 30s, all from Colorado. They were found buried in snow in the White River National Forest.

One of the victims of last Monday's attack is a dance instructor who lost part of her leg. She says she will dance again. We'll hear from her next.