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Bombing Suspects Had no Gun Licenses; Police Chief Recounts Suspect's Capture

Aired April 22, 2013 - 10:30   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Is this written communication admissible potentially as evidence?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know Wolf I think investigators worry less about that. You have to know whether or not they've given him Plan B, you have to understand the level of sedation he was under.

But I think that's not the question and that's not the issue in front of investigators right now. We believe they're operating under a public safety exception and for that very reason the thing that's most important to them is to understand is there any continuing risk to the U.S. public, particularly in the Boston area, but to the American people at large, and what can they do to mitigate that risk?

And so that's really where they're focused. Right now they're not focused on admissible evidence. And quite frankly Wolf I'm not sure they need it. What from even from what -- the limited amount of information they've public if the evidence looks overwhelming against this guy.

BLITZER: Fran Townsend is our national security analyst. Fran thanks very much for that context.

Coming up, there have been many questions about where the bombing suspects got their guns. They reportedly didn't even have a license to own one gun. We're going to talk to the police commissioner of Cambridge. He's standing by live.

Stay with us. Our special coverage from Boston continues.


BLITZER: State and local and federal authorities have more questions than answers in their investigation into the Boston bombings right now. One they will certainly be asking? How did these suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev get their hands on guns in Cambridge? Neither brother had a license to own a weapon.

Cambridge Police Commissioner Richard Haas (SIC) is joining me here in Boston right now. Commissioner first of all, our condolences on the loss of one of your officers at MIT police officer Sean Collier.

You want to speak about him in a moment but these two suspects lived in Cambridge and you're the police commissioner there. Have you been over to their apartment? Have you seen what was inside --

ROBERT HAAS, COMMISSIONER, CAMBRIDGE POLICE: I have not been to the actual, I've been near there, but I haven't gone into the address at all.

BLITZER: I guess the FBI has been going in there and going through everything.

HAAS: Still a crime scene from the FBI standpoint yes.

BLITZER: What can you tell us about the weapons that they had? They didn't have a license to open a weapon, did they?

HAAS: No. Neither one of them had a license. The younger brother by virtue of his age wouldn't be eligible to get a license. And we have no record of them ever applying for the older brother.

BLITZER: You have to be 21 to get it?

HAAS: You have to be 21.

BLITZER: In Cambridge.

HAAS: In Cambridge.

BLITZER: So he was 19 and the older one there is no record.

HAAS: No record at this point.

BLITZER: What kind of weapons did they have?

HAAS: I have no idea. It is still part of the investigation.

BLITZER: But they had no authority to buy weapons, to have weapons, they had no licenses. So somehow they got them. Who is investigating that part of this -- this story?

HAAS: Well, it's a joint even -- there's actually two investigations going on. As you can imagine what took place on April 15th there's a federal investigation is part of the task force. And then there's also a homicide investigation that's been conducted by the (inaudible) attorney's office. The state police are assigned to pack in it and our detectives.

BLITZER: What's your role in this?

HAAS: We're very much focused on the homicide investigation that took place in Cambridge.

BLITZER: The killing of the MIT Officer Sean Collier.

HAAS: Correct.

BLITZER: Tell us how that happened.

HAAS: So we had gotten a report of a robbery at a 7-Eleven in Central Square. And then five minutes later I get a report of an officer shot at MIT and officers responded there initially thinking that the two instances are connected. We later learned they are not connected to one another and then we actually started to conduct our investigation.

It was nearly an hour later that we then got a report of a carjacking. Obtained some photographs from the people that went into the Shell station and were able to link it up to back to what we think is the homicide. There are still very much under investigation at this point there's still suspects in that case as well.

BLITZER: Where was Sean Collier the MIT police officer?

HAAS: He was situated inside the M.I.T. building monitoring traffic at the time when this incident took place and he was there when they approached and attacked.

BLITZER: Was there any -- you know anything that led to that attack? Did he do anything? Was he just standing there?

HAAS: No he was sitting in his police cruiser at the time. And it appears that the suspects approached from the rear of the cruiser and then fired four to five shots into the cruiser.

BLITZER: Do you know what kind of weapons they used?


BLITZER: Just randomly, they decided they wanted to kill this police officer?

HAAS: I'm not sure what the motivation is at this point in time.

BLITZER: But they were suspicious that maybe he could be a threat to them and that's why they assassinated him and killed him if you will?

HAAS: We don't know. We have no idea at this point in time. That's why we're hopeful that we get some answers.

BLITZER: Another police officer was injured in the course of that exchange as well, another transit authority --

HAAS: That was later on when the -- when there was a pursuit up in Watertown. Basically they were able to initially corner the suspects at the MIT or the MBTA police officer who was wounded at that location.

BLITZER: Officer Donohue, he remains in very serious condition.

HAAS: Right.

BLITZER: Tell us a little bit about Sean Collier, the 26-year-old MIT police officer.

HAAS: He's been on the force for 14 to 15 months. He was planning to go a Summerville Police Department as of June 3rd, a young police officer. He was very much involved in the community. Very much involved with the MIT community, very much involved with the homeless shelter in Cambridge. So he was very committed to community. Very well thought of, very well respected. Really had for every intents and purposes had a bright future in front of him.

BLITZER: A tragedy.

HAAS: It was a great tragedy.

BLITZER: A good, good man. I assume you've been in touch with his family?

HAAS: We have. We actually visited the family and we -- you know we are -- we really feel a loss, both in the Cambridge Police Department and the MIT Police Department because we work so closely together.

So he was part of our training program, we answered calls together. So it's a very tight community. And really our feelings and our sympathies go to the family. The MIT community and especially the MIT police that are really suffering at this point and time.

BLITZER: I'm sure they are. Commissioner thanks very much for coming in. Give our best wishes to everyone over there. And our deepest, deepest condolences.

HAAS: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Robert Haas is the police commissioner of Cambridge.

HAAS: Sure.

BLITZER: Right outside of Boston.

An entire city locked down with thousands of police searching for a loan suspect. My interview with Watertown's police chief and his account of how all of it came down. That's coming up in two minutes.


BLITZER: The entire city of Watertown, Massachusetts just outside of Boston was locked down Friday as police went door-to-door searching for one of the Boston marathon bombing suspects. I had a chance to speak with the Watertown Police Chief, Edward Deveau. This is how he describe the events of that day.


BLITZER: Thanks very much Chief for coming in.


BLITZER: You've never experienced anything -- how many years have you been a cop?

DEVEAU: I've been on the job 30 years.

BLITZER: You've never experienced anything like this before.

DEVEAU: Absolutely not.

BLITZER: When did you realize that that this was going down? That you had the second suspect?

DEVEAU: We go -- it was late in the day. You know, we had a report, that you know, that we got from our citizens. We asked them to keep vigilant. And we got the call. And it sounded like really good information.

BLITZER: That -- that person called and said there's a guy in this boat in my backyard.

DEVEAU: That's right.

BLITZER: And there looks like there's blood there. So have you got, pick up the story.

DEVEAU: Right and I do want to talk about what happened the night before as --


BLITZER: We'll get to that in a second.


DEVEAU: So at that point, we had a couple of thousands police officers on scene. The turnout out was just incredible, the support that we got from the -- from the state and from the region. So we had the tactical people to be able to close that scene down and secure it. We did take our time to make sure that everybody was safe in the neighborhood.

And eventually we had to use some flash bangs to render the subject --


BLITZER: Tell the people what a flash bang is?

DEVEAU: It's a loud compression that would stun somebody for a short period of time. And then we begin negotiations and slowly over 15, 20 minute period we were able to get him to stand up and show us that he didn't have a device on him.

BLITZER: All right, so -- he's lying in this boat.

DEVEAU: Right.

BLITZER: He's been there for several hours. He's wounded clearly right, he's bleeding.

DEVEAU: Right.

BLITZER: He's obviously weak. You come over there and what do you say to him? You have a bull horn and you start saying come up with your hands up.

DEVEAU: Well we have -- we have a negotiator who was actually on the second floor of the house looking down at the boat.

BLITZER: You could see him?

DEVEAU: No, we couldn't see him there is a plastic tarp over him but we could have -- we had the state police helicopter that could tell us when there was movement in the boat by the heat sensor. So we could tell he was alive and moving and we began the negotiations that way. And over a -- over a long period of time we were able to finally get him to surrender without any other -- anybody hurt.

BLITZER: So you don't use anymore gunfire and of course while he is in the boat.

DEVEAU: Well once we got -- there was early gunfire when we first got in the area. There was -- he exchanged gunfire with some of the officers and then we secure the scene and then there was no more gunfire after that.

BLITZER: What kind of weapon did he have?

DEVEAU: We're not sure. We have -- that crime scene is still live down there. The boat -- the FBI crime scene search is there now. We haven't got into that boat, we don't know what's in that boat. There could be devices.


BLITZER: Because the FBI is in charge of that?

DEVEAU: The scene on there today, yes.

BLITZER: Did he have an explosive vest on his body like his -- his older brother did the night before?

DEVEAU: Well that was our major concern. And that's why no one wanted to go near him until we were able to get him to understand that we needed him to lift his chest up -- lift his shirt up so could see his chest where we felt comfortable to send some people in to take him in to custody.

BLITZER: Did he do that?

DEVEAU: Yes, eventually, over a long period of time, 20 to 30 minutes, we finally got him to do that.

BLITZER: So he had no explosives with him in the boat as far as you know?

DEVEAU: On his person. We haven't got into that boat. It's a decent size boat so we don't know what else is in there.

BLITZER: Who did the negotiations? Who did the talking with him?

DEVEAU: That would have been the FBI task force.

BLITZER: And he raised up his shirt. He showed he wasn't wearing an explosive device and then what happened?

DEVEAU: Well, at that point once we saw that, we felt comfortable enough to send some officer with tactical equipment to go in and grab him and pull him away from the boat so he wouldn't be able to have anything else. And then we -- he needed first aid, you know, so he was transported by ambulance into a Boston hospital.

BLITZER: And what was the nature of his injuries? I believe the injuries were sustained the night before the exchange that you had with him, with his older brother.

DEVEAU: Right, right. We knew he was --

BLITZER: Hold on a second. There's a lot of activity moving behind us. We're used to this by now. But I just want to make sure our viewers can hear you.

All right go ahead. The exchange the night before. Walk us through that.

DEVEAU: Ok. It's a very hectic night where there was so much heroics in a lot of different police departments but I just want to give credit to the men and women of the Watertown police department. What had happened was there was an assassination of an MIT police officer.

BLITZER: And you believe by these two brothers?


BLITZER: Why would they want -- why did they want to kill this police officer?

DEVEAU: That's still under investigation. He was responding to just a loud disturbance call and, you know, that happened.

BLITZER: Was it on the campus of MIT or at this convenience store?

DEVEAU: I believe it was on campus. And then they fled. They did a carjacking and somehow for some reason they ended up coming to Watertown and that's where, you know, our officers engaged the two of them.

BLITZER: What happened? Pick up the story there.


BLITZER: They are in a hijacked car. They had hijacked the car. They took the driver and then they let the driver go after the driver supposedly went to an ATM and gave them some money, is that right?

DEVEAU: Right. There was some money withdrawn from his ATM and so what happened with Watertown one of our first police officers, we are getting information based on pinging the cell phone that he's in Watertown so we kind of know what streets he's on.

BLITZER: Wait, wait. So Tsarnaev was using his own personal cell phone?

DEVEAU: No. This is the victim's cell phone --

BLITZER: The victim's -- all right.

DEVEAU: -- that remained in the Mercedes.

BLITZER: All right. In other words, so they let the victim go. They had bragged to the victim that they were the bombers of the Marathon, is that right?

DEVEAU: That's my understanding. They said "We did the Boston Marathon bombing and we killed a police officer."

BLITZER: Did they explain why they let the driver go, the man they had hijacked?

DEVEAU: No. I don't -- you know.

BLITZER: Thank God they did.

DEVEAU: Right. And that was lucky for him and lucky for us that his cell phone remained in that vehicle so we were able to get updates.

So now it's about 12:30 in the morning down a residential street in Watertown. Everybody is sleeping. Sleepy neighborhood. And our officer sees two vehicles. The two brothers are in two different cars including the car that was hijacked. He calls and notifies our station. We do all the proper procedure. Do not engage the car. Let's get you some more backup.

And before the backup could even get there, the two cars stop, they jump out of the car and unload on our police officer.

BLITZER: When you say unload, what does that mean?

DEVEAU: They both came out shooting.

BLITZER: Shooting what?

DEVEAU: Shooting guns. Handguns and there was a long arm in the car. So we're not exactly sure. We're still piecing that together. But he's under direct fire, very close by. He has to jam it in reverse and try to get himself a little distance.

BLITZER: The younger brother?

DEVEAU: No. Our police officer. So the two brothers are shooting at my first police officer that's responded and now within seconds I have two or three other police officers that pull up. We had just finished shift so two off-duty officers on their way home heard the call. So I have six police officers in this very tight area engaged in gunfight. We estimate there was over 200 shots fired over a five to ten-minute period.


BLITZER: Chief Deveau goes into more detail on the early morning shootout with the bombing suspect, with how the situation came to an end. Part two of my interview, that's next.


BLITZER: Thousands of police converge on the city of Watertown, Massachusetts in the early hours of Friday morning. After a day of lock downs and door-to-door searches, they successfully capture the last remaining suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Here is part two of my interview with the Watertown police chief, Edward Deveau.


DEVEAU: They had pipe bombs and explosives. During the exchange all of a sudden, something got thrown at my police officers and we now find out it's the exact bomb that was blew up at the marathon on Monday?

BLITZER: What do you mean like in a pressure cooker?

DEVEAU: Yes, it's a pressure cooker. We find the pressure cooker embedded in the car down the street. So there's a major explosion during this gunfight of my officers -- six of my officers that I'm extremely proud of -- that heroic. I mean how -- I'm not, you know -- My heart is out to MIT Officer and his family but how the Watertown police aren't attending a funeral of our own based on what happened on that street over that period of time is just talent, guts and glory that my officers did.

BLITZER: And there was some luck too that nobody was killed -- none of your officers.

DEVEAU: Right. So there was that major explosive. There were two other grenades that came at our officers.

BLITZER: Were they hand grenades?

DEVEAU: They were lighting something and throwing them and they were exploding. So we kind of called them hand grenades but they are very rough devices.

Two other ones didn't explode but our officers that were nearby could have exploded at any other time and now -- so that's what my officers have done.

At the same time the whole greater Boston area is rushing to Watertown. They're on the radio saying Watertown is in deep trouble. Shots fired.

BLITZER: This is shortly after midnight. DEVEAU: Yes. So everybody is coming and they were able to come to us but the gunfight was over by the time people got there except for a couple police officers from the transit.

BLITZER: All right. So walk us through what happened. The older brother, he's wounded, right? He's thrown out of the car and there are reports that the younger brother drove away and drove over his brother, is that right?

DEVEAU: Well, eventually, yes. That's exactly what happened. What happened was at some point the first brother who died at the scene, he all of a sudden comes out from undercover and starts walking down the street shooting at our police officers trying to get closer. My closest police officer is five to ten feet away and they're exchanging gunfire between them and he runs out of ammunition, the bad guy.

And so one of my police officers comes off the side and tackles him in the street and we're trying to get him handcuffed. There are two or three police officers handcuffing him in the street.

BLITZER: The older brother?

DEVEAU: The older brother. At the same time at the last minute they obviously have tunnel vision. It's very, very stressful situation. One of them yells out, "Look out." Here comes the black SUV, the carjacked car, directly at them. They dive out of the way and he runs over his brother and drags him a short distance down the street.

BLITZER: In effect killing his brother?

DEVEAU: Yes. That's what we think.

BLITZER: This is the younger -- the 19-year-old is then driving this car and he escapes?

DEVEAU: Exactly.

BLITZER: So you pursue.

DEVEAU: Right. And at the same time one of the transit officers that came behind our officers, we realize that he's been shot. He's been hit in the groin and he has a serious wound. It has serious bleeding going on. One of my police officers who is an EMT went and rendered him aid and along with his partner from the transit authority and they just deserve all kinds of credit for saving that gentleman's life up unto this point.

Our prayers are still with him and the family because he's still in a tough way. He lost a lot of blood at the scene there but we hope he can make a recovery.

BLITZER: How did the younger one escape?

DEVEAU: He drove off. There's still gunfire. He got down two or three streets. We were in pursuit of him along with the other officers from the surrounding communities that are coming in and he dumps the car and runs into the darkness of the streets.

BLITZER: That's it?

DEVEAU: Then we lost contact with him.

BLITZER: He's in Watertown some place. He's running. You have no idea if he's armed, if he has explosives, but he's gone.

DEVEAU: Right. We're assuming that he has explosives and he has weapons.

BLITZER: This is now 1:00 in the morning?

DEVEAU: Right. Just before 1:00.

BLITZER: That's when you begin this massive manhunt?

DEVEAU: Right.

BLITZER: You take the older brother to the hospital. He's pronounced dead at the hospital.

DEVEAU: Right.

BLITZER: What else did you find there? What other types of weapons -- explosives, hand grenades, pipe bombs -- what else did you find?

DEVEAU: Well, there's handguns there. There's a long-armed rifle. There's the three bombs that exploded is my understanding; there's two that weren't detonated and then the car that he bailed out of. I know there was at least one other explosive device in that car that they didn't use. There was at least six bombs they had if you will.

And before we wrap up, I just want to say the support that I've gotten at the Watertown Police Department, the Boston Police Department and all law enforcement from local across the country, across the world. We have gotten so many people reaching out to us. The streets of Watertown were lined with people as we left the scene.

It was just so moving to see the support we have and I just want to thank the people the Watertown, the greater Boston area and across the country of the support we've gotten.

BLITZER: Police Chief, thanks for your excellent work. Thanks for what you did. We really appreciate it not only here in the Boston area but nationally, indeed around the world. People are watching all over the world right now. We really appreciate what you've done.

DEVEAU: Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

BLITZER: Thanks for bringing this to an end.


BLITZER: Once again, many thanks to Chief Deveau for taking the time to speak with us. I'm sure the support continues to pour in to his officers.

Thanks very much for joining us. I'll be back at 5:00 p.m. -- a special life "SITUATION ROOM" from here in Boston.

The "CNN NEWSROOM" with Anderson Cooper continues right after this.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning everyone. I'm Anderson Cooper reporting live from Boston.

A lot happening this hour. Today, of course, marks one week since back-to-back bombings rocked this city just a few blocks from where I'm standing. President Obama will recognize a moment of silence at 2:30 this afternoon. Bells will ring, will mark the moment of the deadly attacks.

Here is the latest information that we have right now. Two sources telling CNN that the bombing suspect is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is communicating with officials. The 19-year-old was shot in the neck, he's unable to speak at this time. He's been hospitalized.