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New Details in Boston Bombing Investigation; Criminal Charges Against Ricin Suspect Dropped; Criminal Charges Against Ricin Suspect Dropped; Suspect: 'Mastermind' Brother Embraced Jihad; Eyewitness Describes Suspects' Shootout with Police; Boat Owner Discusses How He Discovered Suspect

Aired April 23, 2013 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Lisa Sylvester, thanks very much.

Happening now: new details emerging from the surviving suspect in the Boston bombings, what he's telling investigators about the attack and the motive.

Plus, new images of the shoot-out between Tsarnaev, the two brothers, and the police. We will hear from a man who saw it all go down.

And the how-to manual for building the Boston bombs. Did al Qaeda have an indirect influence on this deadly act of terror?

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Boston. We want to welcome our viewers in around the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

You're looking at live pictures right now, Boston police headquarters. They're getting ready for a news conference. They're going to give us new information on what they describe as the takedown, the takedown of the 19-year-old bombing suspect. We will hear from Boston Police Superintendent William Evans, Lieutenant Detective Robert Merner, Lieutenant Paul O'Connor.

They're getting ready for this news conference. We're going to have live coverage of it. We're anxious to hear what they have to say. They're getting ready to make some announcements, and I believe they're there right now. If they're ready, if they're to begin, let's listen in. This is Boston police, updating us on the what they describe as the takedown of the 19-year-old bombing suspect who's in a Boston hospital right now. Let's listen in.


WILLIAM EVANS, BOSTON POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: Good evening, everyone. Again, I'm Superintendent Evans. On behalf of the police department, you know, obviously we were very proud of our efforts from the beginning, at the marathon site when we had such a terrible tragedy.

Obviously, our hearts and prayers still go out to the victims, you know, Martin Richards, the 8-year-old, the two young females killed, and Officer Collier, who lost his life. To begin things, obviously, our hearts and prayers still go out to the families and the victims in that case.

Because of such an incident and the tragedy, throughout this incident, you know, we had the motivation and the desire to apprehend who was ever responsible for not only the bombings, but also for sort of wreaking havoc on the city of Boston.

All three of us have run the Boston Marathon. We know how special that day is. It's probably the best day in the city of Boston. And for anyone to attack the city the way they did, you know, we all took it personal. And I think that's the motivation that kept us going throughout this event.

For Monday on, when you had seen officers running to the bomb site, and triaging people and giving first aid, we never, never let up our desire to catch who was responsible here. And I think you were seeing that right up until Friday evening. We were out there from 1:00 in the morning until 6:45 when we were very fortunate to have a resident go into the back of his home and find someone bloody in the boat in the back of his house.

We had been hanging in the neighborhood all day long. We were getting tips all day long. The Boston police officers and our partners were chasing calls all day long. Come 6:00 at night, we were pretty, pretty tired. We were going to multiple calls throughout the day, and just at 6:00, when the ban was removed, we continued to search.

I contacted one of my captains, Captain John Dougan, while we were searching to see how the progress of our search was going. He indicated to me, boss, I need 15 more minutes to cover the streets that we have been assigned. So with me at that time was Lieutenant Merner, Lieutenant O'Connor.

So the Boston police continued to search while some of the other -- you know, well after the governor had removed the ban. So our problem at that time is residents were coming out. And the officers were asking, how shall we deal with the residents? And we made it clear, as courteous and as professional as possible, yet getting the job done.

So 15 minutes went by. I called captain John Dougan, who was in charge of one of the quadrants. And I said, John, how are you doing? He said, boss, give me five more minutes. It was at that point when we were standing at the corner of the original site. Our officers were still out there searching when -- we were standing next to the Watertown officer. We heard that the call come in, and he told us -- he didn't hold us. We heard him say we just got a call from a man in the back of a house on a boat.

We hopped into out car. We followed the Watertown officer down because he was more familiar with the area. And at that time, we hopped out of the car, and we all got into the driveway, and we set up a perimeter around that boat. And that's how we got to the scene.

QUESTION: Were there shots fired when you entered the driveway?

EVANS: No, there wasn't shots fired when we entered the driveway.

Again, we secured the perimeter around the boat. You know, at one point, you know, I was calling out that we had plenty of help. I didn't need any more help. Obviously that was quite a highly stressed type situation, where we were having all kinds of help running in when they were hearing us on the radio. But I continued to stress, we're all set, all we need is a tactical team to come in.

We were holding the scene. Because with any hostage situation, or crisis situation, time is on our side. We can wait this fellow out. You know, our goal is to bring in a negotiator, bring in a tactical team and try to bring him out safely without anyone being injured.

During that time, shots rang out from behind the house. We were holding the perimeter in the front of the house. At that time, shots rang out, multiple shots. And at that point, again, I was screaming for everyone to hold their fire at that point, just to calm the situation down. And at that point, we were in a holding scenario, where we were waiting for tactical teams to come in, which I had originally called for.

QUESTION: How many of there were you when you were waiting for the tactical team to come when you heard those shots?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we originally started, the three of us, one --


QUESTION: -- over to the microphone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was three of us, one Watertown police detective, and then additional officers came from various agencies, a sergeant from Brookline, officers from various federal agencies and then the Massachusetts State Police.

We had enough officers on the perimeter. Lieutenant O'Connor and I quickly set up officers in strategic positions along the perimeter, as the superintendent took control of the entire incident.


QUESTION: Were you worried they were coming from within that boat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's always a possibility just that there were shots coming from the boat. And my thoughts was the safety of the officers and the citizens that were still in the area.

QUESTION: Were there shots coming from the boat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's part of the investigation. QUESTION: Did you have anything to do with those shots that were being fired?


QUESTION: Was it a shoot-out at the boat?

EVANS: Again, that's under investigation.

You know, as soon as we had gotten there, we detected movement in the boat. We could see a hand up poking, poking at the top. Whether they were trying to, you know, poke a hole in the top, or if they had a handgun, we weren't sure. You know, but clearly from everybody's vantage point, we could see whoever was in that boat was poking at that top.

And so, you know, that's, again, when we got there, we clearly knew that there was movement in the boat. Some time after this, probably 10 or 15 minutes after, the police, state police brought in a helicopter, and they were very helpful as far as the positioning of the boat -- the body on the boat. But within a few minutes, we knew we had someone in the boat.

QUESTION: Those shots were fired before the helicopter came in?

EVANS: I believe so, yes. Within the first five or 10 minutes, those shots pretty much were fired. Basically, like I said, it wasn't long before we were there, that we could see the movement in the boat.

QUESTION: Was the boat in the perimeter that had been sealed off that day or outside of the perimeter?

EVANS: I believe at this time, it was inside the 20-block perimeter.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Was that boat ever searched?

EVANS: Not to my knowledge. Again, different agencies were assigned different quadrants.

You know what I mean? We had certain quadrants. Other agencies had other quadrants. Quite frankly, I don't honestly don't know whose quadrant that was.


EVANS: The problem you have, in a situation like that, is you get so many units coming to a scene, that sometimes it's very difficult to get the assets in that you want. We did have problems that night. There were so many officers coming, once they heard the call, that unfortunately, some of the egress to that location as far as getting the tactical team, it was a little bit of a delay.

When we were able to move some of the assets, we got them in, probably, what, well, 20 minutes or so. Probably 20 minutes. QUESTION: When you set up your staging area where you were going to stand down until backup comes in, how do you know you're safe if he were to have a suicide vest or with an explosive device? How do you make that determination and how were you feeling at that time when you were --

EVANS: Well, we had taken cover.

You know, we were in a driveway. I was right in front of the house. Officers O'Connor and Bobby here, they were behind cover. So we had cover. I thought we were well protected. Our biggest concern, obviously, was the safety of officers. When you have so many officers show up like that, you worry about crossfire.

That's one of the reasons why -- when we had a dozen or so officers around the perimeter, we had officers who evacuated the houses nearby and we had officers up on the second floor of both adjacent houses. We had great sight in cover on what we had in the boat. It was just a matter of holding until we get the tactical team to come in, and try to negotiate him out.

QUESTION: Who made the decision the hour before to lift the shelter order? And was that a wrong decision?

EVANS: I don't want to comment on that. We continued to search out there. We had our quadrants. My captains weren't happy with the fact they hadn't finished their quadrants. I know from being a commander of the Boston police on the ground, we weren't going to leave until we had finished our job.

QUESTION: Was that your quadrant? Whose quadrant was it where the boat actually was?

EVANS: Again, I can't comment on that. All I know is, we were out there, Captain Dougan, Deputy O'Rourke (ph) and Deputy Leiting (ph) in the back. They were doing their quadrants.

And we just knew we hadn't finished ours and we weren't satisfied leaving until we basically had done what we set out to do. And just remember, I think, you know, we were driven by the tragedy. We all were. And it really impacted us, seeing a lot of us witness what happened there on Boylston. And a lot of us throughout the week worked 16 to 20 hours a day. Nobody complained.

We had a mission. We wanted to catch this guy for what he did, not only to the poor victims, but what he did to our marathon and what he did to our city. And that was the motivation, that when others might have been calling it a day, we weren't calling it a day.


EVANS: Oh, he knew, because there was a lot of chatter outside. You know, everyone was yelling for help. Everyone's yelling to set up the perimeter. So, you know, it's pretty clear I think he knew we were there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We initiated the negotiations first.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) What was said?

EVANS: I don't know. Again, you know, as we moved along here, and once things settled down, the FBI hostage recovery team came in and took over.

Together, with myself, and Lieutenant Merner and O'Connor, myself as the incident commander, we worked with the FBI hostage recovery team. As anyone who knows them, they're probably the best in the nation. And we -- you know, they dictated the tactics they were going to use. Throughout the process they advised us on what was going to happen. And it was the FBI hostage recovery team that went in and started the negotiations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two questions left. Two questions, please.

QUESTION: Was he armed?

EVANS: To my knowledge, that's still under investigation.

QUESTION: How did he get out of the boat? Was he lifted out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He followed the instructions of the negotiators. That's part of the negotiation, basically instructing him exactly what he is to do, how he is to surrender, and be brought into custody. He followed the instructions of the negotiator.

QUESTION: You were the guys that cuffed him?

EVANS: No. Just so you understand, all right, we handled the command of the overall.

We directed the resources at the scene. The FBI hostage response team went in. They're the ones who threw the flash bang. They're the ones, throughout the process, that sort of handled the tactical. They went in and symbolically they let the MBTA put the cuffs on the suspect because of their fellow officer who I'm happy to report is doing much better, which makes us, again, as a law enforcement community, feel great that, number one, we got the guy, but also that the MBTA officer is doing much better.

But we reached out to the T and symbolically after the FBI team had him, symbolically, we let the MBTA put the handcuffs on.


EVANS: Again, the FBI took over the investigation. They're the ones who speak to him. Our job was over. He was in custody. He was -- you know, the FBI took control of the investigation. At that point, you know, our main concern was that all our officers were safe, and we cleared out of the area.

So at that point the FBI took custody, our part ended. All we're doing now is guarding the hospital with both our partners, the FBI, as well as state police. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last question right here, sir. Last question right here, please.

QUESTION: At that point, did you at any point thought you may not find him?

EVANS: Sure.

Like I said, all of our officers were out there, again, from 1:00 in the morning. All right? We were walking around all day long. So we were all tired. Thank God -- and I have to really reach out to the Watertown residents. They were great. You know, our officers had to use bathrooms. We were getting offered food. I can't say enough about the cooperation of the residents of Watertown.

But, you know, we walked, we walked, and our officers as tired as they were, they continued until they were satisfied that what they were assigned to search was completed.

QUESTION: Did you think he had left the perimeter at that point?

EVANS: We were frustrated. But you know what? When we got him, there was no greater feeling in the world. I remember we were out front and right away we all started hugging each other, because we had gone through a lot the whole week, if you think of it. A lot of us seeing the terrible -- you know, the terrible sights on Boylston street. A lot of us, 20-hour days.

Then we had President Obama coming to town, which, you know, we had to handle. And then right on the night after handling that, we were all out just after midnight. So we all had a rough week. We were all really emotionally attached to what happened here.

So the amount of satisfaction, as well as, you know, pride we had, especially myself, on behalf of the commissioner and the chief, of the job the Boston Police Department did. All our officers were out there all week. We didn't hear one complaint. And I can't say how much pride I have that -- it was a great feeling that, not only did the tragedy happen on us, but we were responsible for the ultimate arrest.

So, you know, that was great closure for us. I'm glad, you know, we happened to be right there when the call came in, and actually we took control of that scene that ended up in the capture of this suspect.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're good. We're going to close on that note. Thank you for coming. We appreciate --


EVANS: Thank you, everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for coming. We appreciate it. BLITZER: All right.

That's the Boston police superintendent, William Evans, wrapping up, going into excellent detail on the final, final capture of this 19-year-old suspect, who remains over at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His condition has slightly improved today.

Going through step by step by step how Boston police together with Watertown police, the FBI, all of them combined to eventually, in their words, take down the 19-year-old bombing suspect.

Let's not forget what this is all about. There were four people who were killed, killed as a result of the allegations against these four. And there are the pictures. Little 8-year-old Martin Richard, certainly we want to remember him. Krystle Campbell, 29 years old, 23-year-old Lingzi Lu, the graduate student at Boston University from China, and the MIT police officer Sean Collier, 26 years old.

And more than 250 other people were injured as a result of those bombs.

Ashleigh Banfield is here.

We're getting some new information, Ashleigh. I know you're getting your sources. What are you hearing specifically what's going on?

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of the more fascinating developments I learned today, this comes straight from the top, the district attorney of Suffolk County that represents Boston has told me in the next couple of days, Wolf, they're likely going to be moving the suspect and actually taking him from the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.

There is a possibility he will be taken to another hospital. I'm told that there has been a lot of consternation because many of the victims who are being treated there, at one point I believe there were about 11 at the Beth Israel. Many of the family members of those who were injured are understandably quite upset they're at the same facility where the suspect is being treated as well, the defendant I think we can now call him quite fairly, where he's being treated as well. There is a great possibility in the next few days, according to the DA, he could be transferred to another medical facility.

Then after that, you know, his lawyer did not even discuss the options of bail at that very quick first appearance hearing bedside in the hospital.

BLITZER: The public defender.

BANFIELD: Correct. But he did reserve the right, without prejudice, to be able to revisit the bail option again. The district attorney in this area said it is highly unlikely. I don't that is a surprise to anyone that this person was on the lam at least for a week would ever get bail. So in the interim, before he is tried -- and, by the way, the DA believes a trial could happen within one year to 18 months, a realistic ballpark guess. But in the interim, he would be housed at the facility where Whitey Bulger, actually, a federal convict, is also being housed. And that's the Massachusetts Correctional Institute at Plymouth. That's about 40 miles south of here. That's a state facility, Wolf.

But they do house federal prisoners, not only those who are serving sentences for a short time, but also those who are being held pending trial.

BLITZER: And presumably, is there medical, is there like a hospital facility there at that correctional facility?


BANFIELD: What I'm told about the medical facilities there, they can't handle the necessities of acute care, which is what this particular defendant has been undergoing.

But when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is deemed fit by doctors who are currently treating him, that's when the movements will take place. He will not be moved to the correctional institute if he still requires acute care. That's the interim facility that they're discussing as this possibility, this option of moving him away from Beth Israel.

Imagine if you're the family members and you know that he's sharing the same facility. One other very quick thing I want to mention as well, and that is that when I asked the DA, who is now deciding not to pursue the state charges for those bombing victims, not necessarily for the MIT officer, because Sean Collier, those charges still could come from the Middlesex county DA, whom I'm told is considering that, a murder charge.

But when I asked him if he were pursuing this case like the feds are, what would he feel about the mountain of evidence that has been accumulated thus far, understanding there is still more evidence to be developed, and he said, I believe this would be an extremely easy case to prosecute, notwithstanding any comments that could have been made bedside. I believe with the evidence they have now, this could result in an easy conviction.

BLITZER: Ashleigh Banfield doing good reporting for us. Don't go too far away, Ashleigh. Thanks very much.

Up next, there are also dramatic developments in the case of a man accused of sending poisoned letters to the president and to a United States senator. He's speaking out and we now know why this so- called Elvis impersonator has now been released from jail.


BLITZER: Indeed, more breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. We're just learning that charges against the man accused of sending ricin-tainted letters to President Obama and other U.S. officials, those charges have just been dropped. He was released from custody today. Paul Kevin Curtis spoke to reporters just a few minutes ago.


.PAUL KEVIN CURTIS, FORMER SUSPECT: The last seven days staring at four gray walls like "Green, Green Grass of Home" tune, not really knowing what's happening, not having a clue why I'm there, just being in a state of overwhelmed is the best way I can describe it.

When you have been charged with something and you just -- you never heard of, ricin or whatever -- I thought they said rice, so I said I don't even eat rice.

So, it's a learning experience for me, and for my family.

I would like to thank all my family, friends and fans for their love and support over this past week. But most importantly, I would like to thank Jesus Christ who has been and will always be my best friend, my bodyguard, my teacher and almighty judge.

Divine intervention led this amazing beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed angel to my jail cell through my daughter and a connection with her friend. And just like I have always said, my daughter has a direct link to Jesus. He listens to her, he listens to her prayers. And she said when she heard about it, she felt chills. She knew she had to do something. And to my rescue she came.

And for the first time in 13 years, I have had real representation from an attorney at law. And I will be honest, I haven't had a lot of faith in attorneys. I have went through 20 or so in the last 13 years. And I will never let you go.


CURTIS: That came from the heart. I didn't write that.

I want to also thank Senator Roger Wicker for his kind words about me in the press, and for the record, I have always felt that he is a good and honest man. I respect President Obama. I love my country and would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other U.S. official.

This past week has been a nightmare for myself and my family. My mother has suffered, as well as my children. I would like to get back to normal, which for me means being the best father that I can be to my children, supporting my favorite charity, Save a Life Foundation, and entertaining through my music. Thank you.


BLITZER: Paul Kevin Curtis released from custody, charges dropped. There's still plenty of stuff we don't know about what happened.

Dan Lothian, our White House correspondent, is standing by.

Dan, we do know that ricin-laced letters were spent to the president, to Roger Wicker, the Republican senator from Mississippi, potentially very deadly letters. Where does this investigation go from now -- from now on?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, that is a very good question, because from the very beginning, Paul Curtis and his attorneys had said that he was innocent. They said that there was a lot of information out there in social media that someone used to frame him. They maintained that right to the end.

And then we started seeing earlier today that the government's case was starting to fall apart, if you will, because there was, in the third day of the preliminary hearing, they abruptly canceled those proceedings. And then shortly thereafter, Paul Curtis was released on bond.

And then we started to get a sense that perhaps, you know, investigators were starting to look in a different direction.

Not a lot of details from U.S. authorities as to what exactly was behind all of this. We did get an order for dismissal, where they talked about dismissing the case against Paul Curtis. And in that order they pointed out that an ongoing investigation has revealed new information.

So clearly, they have gotten new information that is pointing them in a different direction, that allowed them to come to the conclusion that Paul Curtis -- charges against Paul Curtis should be dismissed. We're waiting to find out what prosecutors will say next in terms of who they're looking for, and if additional charges will be filed, Wolf.

BLITZER: Dan Lothian, thanks very much for that report.

It's now the bottom of the hour. Let's bring you the latest developments unfolding here in Boston on the bombing investigation.

We're told that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is giving investigators more information about why he and his brother allegedly carried out the bombing attacks. A U.S. government official says Tsarnaev has cited the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as so-called motivating factors. We'll have more on that in just a moment.

Tsarnaev may be able to share more vital information as his health improves. Authorities say his condition actually has been upgraded today from serious to fair.

In an outpouring of support for the dead and the wounded, Boston's mayor says $20 million have been raised so far to help the bombing victims and their families.

There's still a lot investigators don't know after the early questioning of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. We're told he's portraying his dead brother as the mastermind of the attack who embraced the call to wage Islamic holy war.

Brian Todd is here with me in Boston. And you're learning more about what's going on, as well. But the relationship, the connection between these two brothers, among other things.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The two brothers and what may have radicalized them, Wolf. Officials telling us that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is saying no one else was involved in the attacks. He's saying that for the moment.

Officials think there was some self-radicalization involved, especially with the older brother, Tamerlan. But as to what triggered that, the answers are still elusive.


TODD (voice-over): A U.S. government official says the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been cited by suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as motivating factors in the Boston Marathon bombings. Investigators still have to determine if that information is accurate.

Tsarnaev has already told investigators they acted alone; that his older brother, Tamerlan, was the driving force behind the attacks, motivated by jihadist thought, defending Islam. But how did Tamerlan Tsarnaev become radicalized?

U.S. government sources say the younger brothers told authorities there was an online component to the radicalization, watching videos. A government official says the preachings of American-born jihadist Anwar al-Awlaki, killed by a U.S. drone attack, were likely to have been among those videos.

But was there someone else involved in the older brother's radicalization? His uncle implies there was someone who had sway over him.

RUSLAN TSARNI, BOMBING SUSPECTS' UNCLE: I know some guy who became Tamerlan's friend who completely took just his brains away.

TODD: It's not clear who that is. As to when, the uncle says he noticed his older nephew's radicalization as far back as 2009. But there are other pieces to the puzzle.

(voice-over): A key question? Where did any radicalization of Tamerlan Tsarnaev occur? We know he went to Dagestan in Russia last year for several months, but it's not clear if it occurred there.

Did it happen here at the mosque in Cambridge that he attended, where he had two well-known outbursts? We came here to put that to mosque leaders.

(voice-over): Those leaders say in those outbursts, Tamerlan Tsarnaev blasted them for what they say is their moderate theology. They say they told him to back off and, if he did it again, he'd be cut off.

YUSUFI VALI, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF BOSTON: What's clear from what these two incidences is that the radicalization didn't happen here. You know, at the center. If it did happen, because we're still learning so much about this case, you know, getting different accounts.

TODD: Maybe the most puzzling question, why? What triggered Tamerlan's radicalization? Luis Vasquez, who befriended Tamerlan at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, later coached younger brother Dzhokhar in soccer. He says he last saw Tamerlan about three years ago. When I asked Vasquez why his friend drifted toward radical Islam --

LUIS VASQUEZ, FRIEND OF TAMERLAN: The only thing I can think of, I only want to say what I'm sure of, because that one of the sources of this could have been some kind of dissatisfaction of the bad, slow transition to coming to another country from a different one, as a teenager. That's never easy.

TODD (on camera): Vasquez now shares the sentiments of those at the mosque, perplexed as to why the man they knew drifted in that direction, and angry he did it.

Lots of unanswered questions. Brian Todd, thanks very much.

One Bostonian that was uncomfortably close to Tsarnaev's gun fight with the police tells his story to CNN. A bullet went right through his roommate's desk chair.

Plus, another dramatic CNN interview with the mother of the bombing suspects, who insists they were framed.


BLITZER: A man who witnessed the first gun battle between the Boston bombing suspects and the police says he was terrified. But that didn't keep him from taking some remarkable pictures, even sharing the shootout on Twitter. He spoke to our chief Washington correspondent, and the anchor of "THE LEAD," Jake Tapper.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm standing in Watertown, a nice beautiful neighborhood. Laurel Street. But this is the neighborhood where, in the early morning hours on Friday, a shootout between the police, who were down there, and the Tsarnaev brothers, who were right there, allegedly took place.

You can still see the remnants of one of the bomb blasts as havoc was wreaked on this street in the early-morning hours. And neighbors watched, especially one particular neighbor, in that house up there.

ANDREW KITZENBERG, WITNESSED SHOOT-OUT: Cars were stopped right in front of that pole from here. It was roughly 75, 80 yards from here. TAPPER: Andrew Kitzenberg's normally tranquil suburban street erupted into a war zone. The 26-year-old had the presence of mind to start taking pictures with his iPhone and live tweeting the gun battle as the Tsarnaev brothers were allegedly pinned down by police. He walked us through what he experienced that night.

KITZENBERG: I can see the two shooters behind an SUV, shooting on -- down Laurel Street. As soon as I saw the two shooters, and saw that it was gunfire, I ran immediately up the stairs to my bedroom on the third floor. And I immediately -- when I got in the bedroom, I jumped on my bed, on my stomach, trying to stay below the windows, but then I also got my camera right up against the windows and glass, continuing to take -- to take photos of the shooters and what was happening right in front of my bedroom window.

TAPPER: Describe what you're seeing here.

KITZENBERG: This was one of the first pictures I took. And it was -- it was the two shooters that were taking cover behind the black SUV. And still engaging in gunfire and shooting down towards the Watertown officers.

TAPPER: OK. So that's the green sedan is where they had bombs, pipe bombs and explosives.

KITZENBERG: Yes. They were bringing out backpacks. So I assumed that in those backpacks were additional ammunition and explosives.

TAPPER: And they were both firing?

KITZENBERG: They were both firing, yes.

TAPPER: And did you see police on the street?

KITZENBERG: Yes. I could see all the way down Laurel Street and see the police vehicles at the end of the block there.

TAPPER: What's going through your mind when you're taking these pictures? Did you know that these were the brothers that were wanted?

KITZENBERG: Not initially. When I first heard the gunshots, I had seen the reports about the MIT shooting, and that something had happened there. And so I saw gunfire. That's when I immediately -- that's what I immediately thought. And I was live tweeting the event. And I was using those hash tags, MIT, MIT shooting. That's what I thought.

TAPPER: You thought it was separate?

KITZENBERG: I just wasn't thinking marathon. I didn't make a separation. It just -- it didn't come into my mind, until -- until they started using explosives. And when they started using explosives, that's when I knew it was something much more significant. And pretty much knew who I was looking at.

TAPPER: Were you worried for your life?

KITZENBERG: You know, at that moment, taking pictures, I -- it was more so just a state of shock. I had a lot of adrenaline running through me. A combination of shock and curiosity and, absolutely, I was terrified. But I guess not enough to stop -- or to get away from the windows. After that larger explosion, and there was a smoke cloud in the street, one of the brothers ran towards the officers.

TAPPER: The older brother?

KITZENBERG: Mm-hmm. And he was running down the street, still engaging in gunfire. Ran down the street. As he got closer to the officers, he was taken down. And as that happened, the second --

TAPPER: The younger brother.

KITZENBERG: The younger brother got back into the SUV, turned it around, and then he started accelerating down the street.

TAPPER (voice-over): Four and a half days later, adrenaline is still running high on this street. After all, anything could have happened.

(on camera): At what point did the bullet go through your roommate's wall? And into his chair?

KITZENBERG: I don't know. I didn't hear it come in. I was still up in my room. So I did not see when it came in. Or didn't hear it. I took a picture kind of after the gunfire had stopped.

TAPPER: A bullet was fired from that direction, where the police were, and it went through the second floor here, through his calendar, through his desk chair, and landed on the ground. Thankfully not hitting any person.


BLITZER: Jake Tapper reporting for us. Thank you, Jake.

Up next, another incredible interview. The mother -- the mother of the two bombing suspects speaking to CNN. She keeps insisting her sons have been framed.


BLITZER: We're going to hear for the first time from the owner of the boat where the 19-year-old suspect was found. But first, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh caught up with the mother of the suspects in the Russian republic of Dagestan and found her extremely distraught.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's hard to imagine what the parents of the alleged Boston bombers must be having to go through in terms of absorbing the allegations from U.S. officials about not just one, but both of their sons.

We caught up with the mother, who described quite how intimate and close their relationship was with the deceased elder brother, Tamerlan.


WALSH: Zubeidat Tsarnaev is struggling to absorb the heinous accusations against both her sons and the pressure on her for answers amid her grief.

(on camera): Tell me how you feel about their positions against them?


WALSH: Do you believe what he's told?

What do you think happened here?

TSARNAEV: They were being killed just because they were Muslims. Nothing else.

WALSH: Do you think they'll get a fair trial?


WALSH: Do you think they'll get a fair trial?

TSARNAEV: I don't know.

WALSH (voice-over): Earlier we phoned her, and she spoke of her last call to her sons the day before the police shot dead Tamerlan.

(on camera): What did they say to you?

TSARNAEV (via phone): Nothing. I love you, mama. I love you, mama.


TSARNAEV: We were talking about the cat. Mama, I miss you. Mama, I will miss you.

WALSH: For days, she thought it was mistaken identity, that the alleged dead bomber was not Tamerlan. But last night she saw pictures of his body online and accepted his death. But not that either of her sons were the bombers.

TSARNAEV: No. Tamerlan was the most gentle, the most nicest, the most loving, the most loving boy. The most loving, my boy. They killed him. They killed him. I see my son, I was not believing in it until I see body of my son right in front of me. He is killed really cruelly.

You know what I think? I think now they will try make my Dzhokhar guilty because they took away his voice, his ability to talk to the world. You know why they did that? They did it because -- because they did not want the truth to come out. OK? WALSH (voice-over): Believing someone is framing her sons, she says she was meeting Russian authorities Tuesday and now, deeply distraught, must confront a possible death sentence for Dzhokhar.

TSARNAEV: Their protector is God, who is Allah. The only one Allah. OK?

WALSH: I understand.

TSARNAEV: If they are going to kill him, I don't care. My oldest one has been killed, so I don't care. I don't care if my youngest son is going to be killed today. So I want the world to hear this. And I don't care if I am going to get killed too. OK? And I will say, Allahu Akbar. That's what I'm going to say.


WALSH: Zubeidat went on to describe how they were hoping to bury Tamerlan in a mosque in Cambridge, Massachusetts, either today or tomorrow. That's the sisters in the United States being responsible for that. All part, I think, of their process of trying to get their heads around exactly what their sons are accused of.

There are suggestions from the father, certainly, that he wants to be in the United States as quickly as possible. The mother saying it wasn't quite clear to her when she would go. She was meeting Russian authorities here today, as well. So perhaps they will be in the United States soon.

But with so much of this, it keeps changing for them every day as the process of coming to terms with the crimes that their sons are accused of slowly evolves -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Wow. What a powerful, powerful report. Nick Paton Walsh, on the ground in Dagestan, reporting for us. You can see the pain that that mother of these two suspects is going through right now. And think about all the pain so many people here in Boston are going through at the same time.

We'll stay in close touch with Nick. We'll get more.

We're also hearing from the suspect's sisters for the first time. They put out a statement through their lawyer saying, and let me read it to you: "Our heart goes out to the victims of last week's bombing. It saddens us to see so many hurt from a callous act. As a family, we are absolutely devastated by the sense of loss and sorrow that this has caused. We don't have any answers, but we look forward to a thorough investigation and hope to learn more. We ask the media to respect our privacy during this difficult time." That statement from the two sisters of these suspects.

Coming up, wounded war veterans offering some hope and inspiration to some of the bomb victims.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Let's get to the breaking news. He's been the unspoken hero in the Boston tragedy until now. The man who found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding in his boat and immediately alerted authorities. He is now speaking out for the first time in an emotional interview with our Boston affiliate WCVB.

DAVID HENNEBERRY, BOAT OWNER: I know people say, there's blood on the boat. He saw blood near there. Not --



HARDING: Now, the word is, you saw the boat, you pulled back the wrapping, you saw a body, it moved and you called 911?



HENNEBERRY: No, no, no.

HARDING (voice-over): So he went to the garage and grabbed a step ladder.

HENNEBERRY: I went three steps up the ladder. And I was -- I rolled it up, and I could see through now the shrink wrap. I didn't expect to see anything. And then looked over here on the floor and I see blood and --

HARDING (on camera): A lot of blood?

HENNEBERRY: A good amount of blood. And then my eyes went to the other side of the engine box. The engine box is in the middle of the -- there was a body.

HARDING: And at that moment what did you do? What were you think at that moment?


HARDING (voice-over): He couldn't see suspect No. 2's face. He was glad he couldn't see his face.

HENNEBERRY: Well, I know I took three steps up the ladder. I don't remember stepping down off the ladder. This hits you more afterwards when you say, my God, we probably slept last night. This guy could be -- that -- you know, it's just -- it's surreal.

HARDING: In that instant, police responded and he and his wife were taken away.

(on camera): People are calling you a national hero.

HENNEBERRY: If the people that were killed can get something from --

HARDING: You know, in many ways, they do.

HENNEBERRY: Then I'm at peace with it, you know.


BLITZER: We want to thank WCVB'S Ed Harding for that excellent, excellent reporting. We want to especially thank the owner of that boat for doing what he did.

There were some amputees that actually came over today to the hospital and spoke out. Watch this.


GABE RAMIREZ, WOUNDED VETERAN: What's my life going to be like? Is this it? Am I going to be, you know, dependent, instead of independent?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I can't do anything right now.

RAMIREZ: Right now, yes. But I'm telling you, you know, with my all heart, you are going to be more independent, you know, than you ever were.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so glad to hear. I can't believe it's the same.

RAMIREZ: We're the exact same. I'm actually four inches above the knee and I'm below the knee. But I mean, through the knee is exactly the same thing. You actually have the advantage of being weight bearing a little bit more on that -- the right side.

But, you know, just so you know, there's so many -- you know, this is basically the start. This is the new beginning for both of you.


BLITZER: Very important. These veterans what they're doing, trying to help people go through an awful, all of situation.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting from Boston. I'll be reporting tomorrow morning 9 a.m., once again from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. Eastern and be back here tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM at 5 p.m. Eastern. For now, let's go to "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT."