CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Boston Marathon Bombing Investigation; Boston Tries To Heal; Did The FBI Drop The Ball?; Hiding In Plain Sight; Searching The Blast Crater For Clues; Deadly Avalanche; Search For Survivors In China; Hagel Pushes Israel Arms Deal; FAA Furlough Fallout; Witherspoon "Sorry," "Embarrassed"

Aired April 22, 2013 - 07:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: One week after the Boston marathon bombing, we are waiting to find out what, if anything, the suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev might be telling law enforcement officials.

The 19-year-old terror suspect is being heavily guarded at a Boston hospital right now. He is in serious but stable condition this morning with a gunshot wound to the neck and he could be charged criminally today.

We're also finding out more about the fire power and the technology used by law enforcement to take Tsarnaev into custody. Night vision cameras spotted him hiding in a boat. And flash-bang grenades were used to stun and disorient him.

All this while the city of Boston prepares to say good-bye to one of the victims, Krystle Campbell, she's one of three people who died in last Monday's marathon attack. Joining us right now is Boston's police commissioner. He has been right in the middle of this all. Ed Davis, thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

ED DAVIS, BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: Good morning.

BERMAN: Commissioner, what can you tell me about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's condition right now?

DAVIS: He's in serious but stable condition at the Beth Israel Hospital. We have officers who are guarding him. He -- he's progressing at this point.

BERMAN: You say he is progressing. Is he communicating with investigators right now?

DAVIS: Those -- there have been widely published reports that he is. I wouldn't dispute that, but I don't have any specific information on that myself.

BERMAN: You say you wouldn't dispute that. Of course, we understand he's been sedated, intubated, has he been able to communicate with investigators through writing? DAVIS: I can't comment on anything that has to do with the actual investigation. There's a special interrogation team that's standing by from the FBI to deal with that. So I have to stay away from that.

BERMAN: At this point, or up until now, we are told he had not been given his Miranda Rights. Do you have any sense of whether he has this morning or how soon it will be before he does receive them?

DAVIS: The -- the decision not to read Miranda Rights was made by the federal officials. This is a unique clause to the terrorism law that we've not dealt with at the local level before.

So, we are standing by and watching that at this point in time to see how that develops. But, the lawyers are involved in the decision, and certainly we're very anxious to talk to him, and the investigators will be doing that as soon as possible.

BERMAN: Commissioner, over the weekend I heard you say you believe you found evidence your offices did you believe that these brothers were planning some kind of another attack, or at least prepared for it. Tell us about that.

DAVIS: The two suspects were armed with handguns at the scene of the shoot-out. 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 -- more death and destruction.

BERMAN: It was an arsenal that could cause a great deal of damage. One of the truly fascinating parts about this episode Thursday night into Friday morning is that the brothers carjacked this man and kept this man with them for some time.

"The New York Times" is reporting this morning that this man, who had driven the car for them for awhile, and was ultimately released, said that the brothers told him that they were headed to New York with that car, presumably with that arsenal. Do you have any information about that?

DAVIS: I do not. That gentleman obviously is a very important part of this investigation, and he provided vital information to us the night of the pursuit. So he's obviously someone that has specific knowledge that we are very interested in getting in its entirety.

BERMAN: Indeed. And Commissioner, one of the things we've learned over the last several days is that the FBI, in fact, did question Tamerlan Tsarnaev as far back as 2011, at the request of the Russian intelligence agency. After that questioning by federal investigators, did he appear on any kind of city, state, or local radar?

DAVIS: We have the Boston Regional Intelligence Center here that is one of the fusion centers set up by the federal government. We work very closely with all federal authorities. And just in the Boston area, we speak to or review dozens of people every month that we are concerned with.

So there are a massive number of people. As time goes on, there are a lot of people that get spoken to in this regard. It's a very difficult job to filter through them all. Just at the local level.

But I'll tell you this. We've been working very closely with the FBI. I don't have any information about the international components of this at this point, but we're looking very closely at it.

BERMAN: But do you have any information that concerns were passed on from the FBI to city or local police after that first round of questioning in 2011?

DAVIS: I do not. I don't have any information that anyone contacted the Boston Police Department with the name of this individual. But, he -- he was not living in the city of Boston, first of all. And second of all, we're still looking through our files on that.

BERMAN: And, of course, what can you tell me about Transit Officer Richard Donahue. He was shot in that car chase in the shoot-out Thursday into Friday morning. He lost a great deal of blood. Do you have any information on how he's doing this morning?

DAVIS: Richard Donahue was a transit police, who, by the way, were incredible partners on this. They were with us every step of the way. He's doing much better. He -- he was able to communicate through hand signals with his family yesterday. And he was in grave condition when he went to the hospital. So, we're very optimistic at this point in time, and our prayers are with him and his family.

BERMAN: Indeed, ours are, too. That is terrific news. Finally, Commissioner, the street behind me, Boylston Street, one block behind me, still a large part of it shut down as part of this crime scene, any sense of the timing about when it will be reopened?

DAVIS: The FBI gave me a full briefing on that two days ago. We're looking in the next 24 to 48 hours to be able to give that back to the community. It's going to take time. We have to allow store owners to go in there first.

It won't be able to the general public for maybe another day so the store owners can get their businesses back on track. But we want to get people back in their homes as soon as possible, and we're working diligently on that right now.

BERMAN: All right, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, thank you so much for being with us this morning. Thank you for all your work over the last week. I know it's been a difficult week here.

DAVIS: Thank you. It has been. No question. Thank you.

BERMAN: Meanwhile, surviving -- no question. Surviving suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev spent several days after the Boston marathon bombing hiding in plain sight at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus. The 19-year-old sophomore was spotted in the dorms, spotted working out, even attending a party for an intramural soccer team. CNN's Chris Lawrence has been talking to stunned classmates. He is in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (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 attack he's accused of committing.

ZACH BETTENCOURT, UMASS DARTMOUTH STUDENT: I saw him Tuesday, the day after, at the gym.

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

BETTENCOURT: He seemed very nonchalant. He didn't seem like -- I mean, like nervous or anything.

LAWRENCE: Dzhokhar worked out for awhile and didn't shy away when Zach brought up the bombing.

BETTENCOURT: I was like, yes, these things happen in other countries, maybe Iraq and Afghanistan and stuff like that. And he's like yes, tragedies happen like this all the time, and 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 intramural soccer players.

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

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

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

LAWRENCE: And to some students, scary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ate where he ate. I slept like a few feet away from him. I've had class where he had class. Like, with a terrorist.

LAWRENCE: Chris Lawrence, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BERMAN: That report from our Chris Lawrence at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus about 60 miles south of where I am right now. This is where we stand this morning in the Boston marathon bombing investigation.

A lot of new details to tell you about, we are waiting to hear if formal charges will be filed today against surviving suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Meanwhile, the marathon finish line on Boylston Street about one block away from where I'm standing remains a crime scene.

It is still closed this morning, but we just heard from the commissioner, should open in the next 24 to 48 hours. Funeral scheduled this morning for 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time this morning for Krystle Campbell. She is one of the three people who was killed in last week's terror attack.

And at 2:50 p.m. this afternoon at the exact moment the first bomb went off last week, bells will toll across Boston for 30 seconds, as this city pauses to remember the victims. Our Christine Romans is back in New York with some of the other stories we're following this morning. Hi, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, John. Good morning to you again. Today in West, Texas, investigators are headed into the blast crater. They're hoping there that that hole has clues about what started a fire and set off an explosion last week at a fertilizer plant.

At least 14 people, mostly first responders, were killed. Two hundred people were injured. About 50 homes nearby destroyed. Also, questions this morning about what kind of chemicals were stored on this ten-acre site. CNN's Martin Savidge joins us now from West, Texas, with the very latest. Good morning, Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. Yes, investigators really having to rely on sort of a forensic science here to figure out what happened because the records and everything that would tell you what kind of fertilizers were kept in that facility, they were obliterated with the facility itself when it blew up on Wednesday night.

Behind us here is the checkpoint, it's the road, actually, that would have led to the fertilizer plant. The road is still there, the plant is not. The curfew that goes all night long is about to be lifted in half an hour. That doesn't mean that everybody gets to go home.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE (voice-over): At checkpoints that divide the town, residents line up to go home over the weekend. But only a few of the most undamaged areas were allowed in, facing strict curfews and little or no water or electricity.

New video shot by CNN in the explosion zone continues to demonstrate the power of last Wednesday's blast. Like this apartment building where two people died. The outside walls have vanished. Trees blown over, torn up by the roots and boulders of reinforced concrete lie everywhere left over from the deadly hail that came from the plant.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Just completely exploded.

SAVIDGE: The 911 calls paint their own pictures of horror.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: All the windows on the north side of the house are completely blown in. The walls, part of it is blown off.

SAVIDGE: Investigators say they have found where the blast originated at the fertilizer plant.

KELLY KISTNER, TEXAS ASSISTANT STATE FIRE MARSHALL: We do have a large crater, and you guys have seen photos of some of that, I'm sure. But we do have a crater that's there.

SAVIDGE: But they still don't know what caused the fire that first brought emergency crews to the scene and ignited the cataclysm that wiped out a third of this small town's fire and EMS force instantly.

Meanwhile, volunteers struggle to keep up with all the donated aid pouring in. Syble Bohannan is grateful. At 83, she's starting over. The blast threw her against the wall, and destroyed her home.

SYBLE BOHANNAN, BLAST SURVIVOR: This is a typical west or should I say Texas because if it had happened somewhere else, we would have been there to help them, also.

SAVIDGE: A mile from the plant, St. Mary's was untouched by the blast but not its congregation. Most of the first responders who were killed used to worship here. Some were married here and one is the son of the church secretary. At Sunday mass, town's people leaned on their faith, and each other as shock gave way to grief.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: It's expected to begin this week, but not until later because many of the bodies were kept as part of the investigation and they're still waiting to be returned to the families.

Meanwhile, that investigation is crucial because this isn't the only fertilizer distribution plant in the country. There are actually 6,000 of them and many of them are located in very small towns like this one, here.

The concern is, was this just an accident one time or could there be some problem in the practices of how fertilizer are being handled, and could these facilities be dangerous and a threat to other communities -- Christine.

ROMANS: Yes. And do we need to look at zoning laws to make sure that homes and churches and other buildings aren't built so close to these facilities. Thanks so much, Martin Savidge. We'll check in with you again.

Next hour we're going to talk with a West, Texas, resident who is just allowed to return to his home. John, back to you in Boston. BERMAN: All right, thanks so much, Christine. Ahead on STARTING POINT, we will continue our live coverage of the Boston marathon bombing aftermath. Top of the hour we're going to look into charges that the suspect could be facing.

And next we're learning more about the five snowboarders killed in Colorado's deadly avalanche this weekend and what went wrong. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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 know borders were caught in a deadly 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 and was partially buried, but he was able to get himself out and call for help.

VALENCIA: Workers for 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA: As for the survivor, CNN has learned that he is back at home, recovering from his injuries. Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.

ROMANS: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, one of Hollywood's sweethearts finds herself in handcuffs. Why Reese Witherspoon and her husband were arrested over the weekend. That's next. You're watching a very special edition of STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to Boston, everyone. A lot more people out on the streets this morning in Boston. Let me give you a sense of what is happening today in the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombings. First and foremost, I could tell you that in the next 24 to 48 hours, the police commissioner tells me that the area behind me, Boylston Street will reopen to the public that's in the next 24 to 48 hours.

We also know that the surviving suspect 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, he is in the hospital serious, but we're told stable condition. He could be charge as early as today.

At 11:00 today, there will be funeral services for one of the victims of this bombing attack Krystle Campbell will be laid to rest.

And finally at 2:50 p.m. today, there will be a moment of silence across the city as the bells toll in remembrance of all the people who suffered in this marathon bombing. That will come at the exact moment that the first bomb exploded one week ago.

That's what is happening here in Boston. Let's go to Christine Romans back in New York for the look at the other news happening around the world today. Hi, Christine.

ROMANS: Thanks, John. A lot going on. Let's start in China in Sichuan Province where there has been another big earthquake in Southern China. A race is on to find the survivors in the rubble, trapped in the rubble from buildings that collapsed in Saturday's powerful quake.

At least 188 people were killed. That figure is expected to rise. Eleven thousand others were injured. Rescue efforts are hampered by frequent and powerful aftershocks. The weekend quake registered a magnitude 6.6.

New this morning, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is meeting with his Israeli counterpart and later today, he'll meet with Israel's President Shimon Peres. He is in Israel to push a plan to deter Iran's nuclear ambitions. That includes a new 10-year $10 billion arms package for Israel that would give it a bigger military edge in the region.

Airline passengers are bracing for more flight delays caused by the FAA furlough of workers. On Sunday, the agency began forcing air traffic controllers and other employees to take one unpaid day off every other week. The impact on air traffic was minimal Sunday night, but it's expected to get worse as busier weekday travel gets underway.

Reese Witherspoon is apologizing this morning. She was arrested Friday in Atlanta after a traffic stop. The arrest report says she got out of the car after a state trooper warned her to stay put then she asked him if he knew her name. The actress is charged with disorderly conduct.

Her husband who was driving is charged with DUI. Witherspoon put out a statement saying she had too much to drink and was sorry and embarrassed by her behavior -- John, back to you in Boston.

BERMAN: All right, thanks, Christine. Ahead on STARTING POINT, Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could be criminally charged as early as today. We're talking to CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin about what he might be facing. We'll also talk to Massachusetts Anderson Michael Capuano about the investigation and how this city is recovering.

Plus, just an incredible survivor story, a 6-year-old rescued from the jaws of an alligator. He will join us along with his father in the next hour of STARTING POINT. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman in Boston this morning. Our STARTING POINT today gathering new details, the suspect in the devastating Boston marathon bombings could be charged today. Commissioner Ed Davis telling us just minutes ago, he is unable to confirm if the suspect is communicating with authorities.

And how will he charge the U.S. citizen or enemy combatant? What more will he face and what are the implications of that decision? We will be speaking to CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin about that.

Plus the FBI question the other suspect, his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, two years ago, but they let him go. Did they miss an opportunity to stop him? Then the suspect's aunt speaking out, what he had to say this morning live from Dagestan.

It is Monday, April 22nd, the special edition of STARTING POINT begins right now.

The city of Boston bloodied but by no means broken, getting back on its feet this morning. We've seen school buses go by. School children, many of them were on vacation last week. They are back to school today and then this message on the public buses, the theme, "The Boston Strong," such a nice message to be spending all over the country.

Meanwhile, new developments unfolding in the bombing investigation, the surviving suspect --