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Boston Marathon Bombing Investigation; Deadly Avalanche

Aired April 22, 2013 - 05:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman live in Boston this morning. It's Monday, about half past the hour right now.

Criminal charges could be filed today against the surviving suspect in the Boston marathon terror attack. Nineteen-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in serious but stable condition this morning. And while we wait to hear what if anything he may be communicating to law enforcement, the city of Boston prepares to bury one of his alleged victims, Krystle Campbell. Pamela Brown is here with the latest on the investigation. Good morning, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, John. The suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is still here in the intensive care unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center handcuffed to his bed. We're told that he is still intubated and sedated with serious injuries. Sources tell my colleague, Susan Candiotti, that he has a gunshot wound to the neck and can't speak. Even so, federal prosecutors are hoping to file charges possibly as early as today.

When he does face charges, they will include at least federal terrorism charges and possible state murder charges. In Cambridge, the transit officer, Richard Donohue, injured Thursday night during a shootout with the suspect remains in critical condition. At a press conference yesterday, doctors said he barely made it, but now, they are cautiously optimistic about his recovery.


DR. RUSSELL NAUTA, CHAIRMAN DEPT. OF SURGERY: This is a truly exsanguinating injury, meaning, that the officer's blood volume was almost entirely lost to the point of the heart stopping. The heart was resuscitated over the next 45 minutes or so by a very aggressive effort by first responders and by our people in the emergency department to the point of restoration of rhythm and pulse.


BROWN: Some of the victims who lost their lives during last week's marathon bombing are being remembered today. Krystle Campbell (ph), the second victim, is being laid to rest at 11:00 this morning. And tonight, there will be a memorial service for Ling Zhi Lu, the third victim at Boston University's campus -- John.

BERMAN: Pamela, I was at a bar last night, and everyone in the bar was talking about their own stories about how they were going by some of the makeshift shrines and temporary memorials that have been set up around town. What's your sense of how the city is coping?

BROWN: You see those memorials all over the place, John. It does appear that there are signs that life is starting to return back to normal here in Boston. We saw crews yesterday starting to clean up Copely Square, the crime scene where the bombings happened. And Copely Square is expected to open in the next couple of days through a five-phase plan that authorities have.

Also, you see the signs, "Boston strong," everywhere you go. And today at 2:50 p.m., the same time the first bomb went off a week ago, there will be a moment of silence throughout the state of Massachusetts. That will be followed by a ringing of the bells here in Boston and elsewhere -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Pamela Brown here in Boston with us this morning. Thanks so much.

I want to bring in Peter Brookes to help walk us through the next step in this investigation. Peter is a former CIA analyst and the former deputy assistant defense secretary. Peter, thank you so much for being with us this morning.


BERMAN: There are some reports this morning that investigators are beginning to communicate with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspect in the hospital right now, perhaps, by writing. If this communication is happening, obviously, it's very limited. So, what types of questions do you imagine they might be asking?

BROOKES: Are there any more plots out there? Are you working with anybody else here in the United States? Obviously, you need to, at this point, to try to prevent any additional attacks in the United States. So, that's the first thing you want to know, then you're probably going to start moving towards the history. How did you get to this point? How did we get to the Boston marathon bombing?

BERMAN: You know, what kind of incentive does he have to cooperate?

BROOKES: Well, I'm not a lawyer, but my sense is as John Q Public here is that he may want to reduce his risk of prosecution. He'd certainly will be prosecuted by reduce of sentencing. He may have some second thoughts. My sense is, John, at this point, that he probably was recruited by his brother.

He probably may not have the same buy-in that his older brother had into this -- what appears to be militant Islam. So, he may -- there may be some regret on his part. So, he may want to actually cooperate with authorities. But once again, we want to know if there's any more plots out there, any more bombs out there. Are you working with anybody else in the United States?

BERMAN: Peter, over the course of this five-day, that five-day investigation last week from the time of the bombings to when they were -- well, one suspect was killed and the other apprehended, there were a lot of successes but there were also, some point, some things that just didn't work. Facial recognition software for instance. They had pictures of both of the suspects, and both of the suspects were in the system somewhere, whether it'd be immigration photos or driver's licenses, yet, they weren't recognized. Is that a failure in the system?

BROOKES: Well, look, technology, you can only trust it up to a certain point. And obviously, it came down to, you know, some terrific analysts, agents, law enforcement in finding these individuals, picking them off videos. So, technology is only so good until it doesn't work. Your computer is only so good until it doesn't boot where you get the blue screen or something along that line.

So, you have to have fallbacks. And in this case, this technology didn't work. I'm sure in the future, they'll be work its cutting edge. They'll be starting to work on that to see if they can do this. There'll be lots of lessons learned here, John, you know, across the board. You know, why didn't we get these people before they acted? What could we have done differently? And lessons learn is going to be really critical for us to prevent something like this from happening again in the future.

BERMAN: Let's talk about one of those things specifically, of course, the FBI knew about the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev at the request of the Russian intelligence service. They actually questioned him back in 2011, yet, they found no reason to further investigate or apparently they asked the Russians for more information and didn't get it. Did they let him slip through their fingers in a way?

BROOKES: Well, I guess, the ultimate answer is, you know, yes, but we don't know where he was in 2011 and where he was in 2013. There could have been a significant radicalization. He made a trip over sees to Dagestan. John, I think it's fair to say, this is a perfect storm of currents that came together that led us to the Boston marathon. You know, it would have been great if the Russians had given us some more information.

They, obviously, knew of him having some contacts with people that they were concerned about overseas. But once again, I mean, these are judgments. When you sit down across the table from this individual, he was interviewed. You know, the FBI agents had to make some judgments. They came to a judgment that ultimately two years later or so appeared to be the wrong one. But once again, that's one of the things we're going to have to go back and look at.

What did we miss here that we might have gotten? What happened between 2011 and 2013? That's, you know, two years. Like I said, I think that Russian trip -- trip to Russia into Dagestan was probably critical in his radicalization that ultimately led to the bombings last week.

BERMAN: Investigators will be piecing this timeline together every minute over the next days and weeks. Peter Brookes, former CIA analyst, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

BROOKES: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: Really appreciate it.

And new this morning, there is shock from the aunt of the accused Boston bombers. Our Nick Paton Walsh spoke to her earlier about the six months that suspect number one, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, spent in Dagestan last year. You just heard peter Brookes talking about it. She says she was surprised that Tsarnaev became devoutly Muslim while living in the U.S., not in Russia, but while living in the U.S.

She also said he would not look a woman directly in the eye if she was not related to him. And she expressed disbelief that he was allegedly involved in the attacks at all.

Meantime, runners and spectators in other races around the world, they are showing solidarity with the people of Boston. There were hundreds of extra police officers assigned to the London marathon where runners wore black ribbons to remember the bombing victims. You saw support in everything from spectator signs to runners' hairstyles.

Organizers donated money for every single runner who crossed the finish line to a charity set up to help those affected by the bombings. And the gift is expected to top $100,000.

In a New York City -- New York City Central Park, a big show of security for a small four-mile long race. Police searched backpacks and used remote cameras to keep a close eye on things. Runners wore shirts with the blue and yellow official colors of the Boston marathon to show support. That's nice (ph).

And coming up, he was spotted all over campus. CNN's Chris Lawrence spoke to some of the suspect's stunned classmates at UMass Dartmouth. And we're going to hear what they had to say coming up next.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Berman live in Boston this morning. And for several days last week, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was hiding in plain sight on the campus of UMass Dartmouth. The 19-year-old sophomore was spotted in the dorms. He was seen working out, even going to a party with his intermural soccer team.

CNNs Chris Lawrence has been talking to the suspect's stunned classmates. He joins us live now from Dartmouth, Massachusetts. This is about 60 miles south of Boston. Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hey. Good morning, John. I mean, you got to think about it. While investigators were poring through thousands of photos and hours of video looking for their suspect, he was right here and it seemingly just gone back to his life as a college student.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): A little more than 24 hours after video cameras captured him at the Boston marathon, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev jumped back into campus life, seemingly unfazed, classmates say, by the terror attacks he's accused of committing. ZACH BETTENCOURT, UMASS DARTMOUTH STUDENT: I saw him Tuesday, the day after at the gym.

LAWRENCE: And Zach Bettencourt says Dzhokhar was acting like he didn't have a care in the world.

BETTENCOURT: He (INAUDIBLE). He didn't seem, like, I mean, like, nervous or anything.

LAWRENCE: Dzhokhar worked out for a while. It didn't shy away when Zach brought up the bombing.

BETTENCOURT: I was basically like, yes, these things happen in other countries, you know, like maybe Iraq and Afghanistan. He was like, yes, tragedies happen like this all the time. It's sad.

LAWRENCE: Just days before helicopters and SWAT teams descended on UMass Dartmouth, Dzhokhar was seen all over campus.

(on-camera) Students have to swipe their I.D. to get entrance to the building, and records show Tsarnaev did just that right here on Wednesday.

(voice-over) Friends saw Dzhokhar walking around his dorm. They say he went to this Italian restaurant on Wednesday hanging out with other intermural soccer players.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was a pasta party for soccer team.

LAWRENCE: The campus buzz over the bombings didn't seem to bother him.

BETTENCOURT: He was like, yes, tragedies happen, man. Like, these things happen around the world like it's crazy.

LAWRENCE: To some students, scary.

BRITTANY, LETENORE, UMASS DARTMOUTH STUDENT: I ate where he ate. I slept like a few feet away from him. I've had class where he's had class, like, with a terrorist.


LAWRENCE (on-camera): Obviously, Tsarnaev hasn't been charged let alone convicted, but you can understand, you know, sort of why she feels that way. Brittany told us she knew him and she hung out with him several times at a place students call the Russia house. It's an off-campus house where a lot of the international students like to hang out. And he was there a lot.

So, when you hear this narrative about the brother being sort of isolated and not having any American friends, I can tell you from a lot of folks here, that was not the case with his younger brother -- John.

BERMAN: By all appearances, when you hear from these other people, he was just a regular college kid. It really is stunning. Also stunning, why did he come back? Why come back so close to the site of the bombings when he was 60 miles away down where you are in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. All right. Chris Lawrence, thanks so much. Still so many questions to ask -- Zoraida.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Very bizarre, indeed. And still ahead, Colorado's worst mountain avalanche in 50 years.

And this morning, we're learning the identities of the expert snowboarders and skier involved. The details coming up next.


BERMAN: About 49 minutes after the hour right now. I'm John Berman live in Boston this morning. Let's bring you up to date.


BERMAN (voice-over): The city of Boston in full recovery mode this morning one week after the marathon terror attack. Funeral services will be held late their morning for Krystle Campbell (ph), one of the three people killed in the bombings last week. The surviving suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is hospitalized in serious but stable condition with a gunshot wound to the neck.

He could be criminally charged as early as today. Not clear right now this morning what if anything he's been able to communicate to investigators -- Zoraida.


SAMBOLIN: And we're going to check back in with you shortly. Thank you, John.

And this morning in Colorado, police have released the identities of five snowboarders killed in a weekend avalanche. That avalanche happened Saturday afternoon in Loveland Pass. That's about 50 miles west of Denver. CNNs Nick Valencia tells us what went wrong.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even for a group of experienced snowboarders, the back country of any mountain can be unpredictable. Over the weekend, a group of six snowboarders were caught in a deadly afternoon avalanche in Loveland Pass, about 50 miles west of Denver. Despite wearing avalanche beacons and all of the proper equipment, only one of the snowboarders got out alive. It was Colorado's deadliest avalanche in more than 50 years.

SHERIFF DON KRUEGER, CLEAR CREEK COUNTY: Apparently, they triggered a slide. At least one of them was able to bail off to the side, he was partially buried but he was able to get himself out and called for help.

VALENCIA: Workers with the Colorado Department of Transportation spotted the lone survivor after he walked to a nearby highway from the avalanche site, more than 200 yards away. The local sheriff told CNN if it wasn't for him, there's a chance rescue teams would still be looking.

On Sunday, the sheriff's office released the names of the deceased. All of them in their 30s and natives of Colorado.

(on-camera) As for the survivor, CNN has learned that he is back at home recovering from his injuries.

Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.


SAMBOLIN: That was nothing short of a miracle.

Meantime, people in the Chicago area are still feeling the effects of last week's heavy rains. Some roads near the Des Plaines River, west of the city, are still close because of all the flooding. And some people who had to leave their homes because of the rising water have not been able to return home. Flooding and crusting rivers have also been a problem in the northwest suburbs.

Meteorologist, Samantha Mohr, is following extreme weather from CNNs weather center in Atlanta. I know that there was a hospital also southwest of Chicago that actually had to have evacuations. Are they expecting better weather now?

SAMANTHA MOHR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know, today is actually going to be sunny and dry with the suddenly wind ahead of a next weather system that's going to make things a bit worse before they get better, and there's going to be a lot of winter weather on the backside of this thing in the northern plains as well.

So, you can see the widespread flooding that is occurring right now all across the region in St. Louis, into Chicago, on up into Michigan, and those flood warnings are staying in place at least through midweek the Des Plaines River. Near Des Plaines, one of those spots that is really dealing with the flooding today and will continue the next few days.

You can see rain on approach right here. This is a big winter storm on the backside of this thing where we could end up seeing some very heavy snowfall here. We're talking some six to 10 inches in the Minneapolis area, mostly tonight and into the first part of tomorrow. Here's the timing on this system as it moves on through. We'll see the rain moving into the Chicago area tomorrow morning early and lasting throughout much of the day.

And we're expecting to see those rainfall amounts tally up to some half an inch to possibly an inch and a quarter. We'll be watching those rainfall amounts very carefully here, Zoraida, as it will add to some of the rainfall, some of the flooding woes here. That will slow that rate of the receding floodwaters. So, it will get a little bit worse before it gets better -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Samantha Mohr, thank you. MOHR: You bet.

SAMBOLIN: And a developing story this morning in the Sichuan Province in Southwestern China. The race is on to find survivors trapped in that rubble from buildings that collapsed. This was on Saturday's powerful earthquake. At least 188 people were killed and that figure, unfortunately, is expected to rise. Eleven thousand others were injured.

Rescue efforts have been hampered by frequent and very powerful aftershocks. The weekend quake registered a magnitude of 6.6. Just devastating there.

Meantime, Reese Witherspoon arrested and apologizing this morning. A state trooper in Atlanta pulled over her husband Friday for not staying in his lane. The actress got out of the car after she'd been warned to stay put. So, the trooper arrested her. Witherspoon put out a statement saying she had too much to drink and that she was sorry.

She is charged with disorderly conduct. Her husband is charged with DUI. There is a court hearing this morning in Atlanta. They are not expected to attend that.

And quick-thinking adults may have saved the life of a six-year-old Florida boy. Joey Welch (ph) was attacked by an eight-foot alligator on Friday. He fell into the water while waiting to go canoeing with his father in Boyton Beach where the gator jumped up, grabbed his right arm. His father heard Joey scream.


JOSEPH WELCH, RESCUED SON: So, I ran into the water. It was about waist deep. And I had my son like this here, because I didn't want to play tug of war with the alligator, because I didn't want to get his arm ripped out.


SAMBOLIN: Can you imagine that? So, while Joseph Welch struggled to release his son, a good Samaritan stopped to help and kicked the gator in the stomach. The child was saved. And look at him, he only suffered minor injuries, we are glad to report. Wow.

So, we will hear firsthand from Joey and his dad about those really scary moments. They're going to join us later on "Starting Point" at 8:30 eastern. Looking forward to that.

And coming up, we'll go back to Boston for the latest on the investigation and the surviving suspect in the Boston marathon bombings.

And we'll look back on a weekend of tributes from the sports world helping a city heal. You are watching EARLY START.




PINSKY: Listen to that, everyone. Boston Bruins fans, they have a new tradition. Since the Boston marathon attacks, for a third straight game, fans joined in the singing of the national anthem. I mean, really joined, full-throated, top of your lungs singing. This time, it was before the game with the Florida Panthers. So, so nice.

There were tributes to the victims of the Boston marathon bombings at several sporting events really all across the country on Sunday.

SAMBOLIN: It's been so emotional. The visiting Florida Panthers had their own tribute to Boston before Sunday's game with the Bruins. Panthers players on (ph) Boston police or Massachusetts state police caps for their pre-game skate, and during the game, Panthers players wore 617 stickers on their helmets. That is the Boston area code there.

And at the Kansas speedway, NASCAR held a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston marathon bombings. The MIT police officer who lost his life and the victims of the fertilizer plant explosion that is in West Texas. There's a NASCAR connection to the tragic events in Boston also. Slain MIT officer, Sean Collier's, brother, Andrew, works in the engine shop at Hendrick Motorsports, that is one of NASCAR'S top teams.

EARLY START continues right now.


BERMAN (VOICE-OVER): New developments in live coverage of the Boston marathon bombings. The surviving suspect in a hospital bed may be charged as early as today as investigators try to learn more about how it all unfolded and whether there are more threats out there.

The FBI accused of dropping the ball. Why did agents question one of the suspects two years ago and then just let him go?

And, the Russian connection. How this gunfight four months ago could be linked to the Boston bombing case?