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Suicide Bomb Planned for July 4; Wildfire Rages NW of Los Angeles; Lawmakers Face Gun Vote Blowback; Explosive Residue in Tamerlan's Home

Aired May 3, 2013 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good to see all of you. I'm Brooke Baldwin live here in Boston.

Want to begin this afternoon with brand-new developments this hour in this Boston bombing investigation. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is talking, and what he's telling the feds is quite frankly disturbing. A law enforcement source tells CNN that the suspects had another terror plot in mind here in town, a suicide attack at the huge Boston Pops 4th of July show. But as they built these pressure cooker bombs in Tamerlan Tsarnaev's apartment in Cambridge, they realized they'd be ready much sooner than they actually anticipated. So what did they do? You know what they did. They decided on an earlier detonation.

And you see this black van? This is a hearse carrying the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. It was met by a couple protesters at this funeral home just outside of Boston. An uncle has now claimed the body of this suspected terrorist.

Also today, a family spokeswoman says he will be buried right here in Massachusetts near the same city he is accused of bombing. It's a city that is trying to move on. Tonight, a capacity crowd will watch the Celtics at an NBA playoff game. Also we've learned today New Kids on the Block, they have announced they will be joining this huge concert in just a couple weeks here in Boston. You have New Kids, you have Aerosmith, Jimmy Buffett, Boston here for Boston Strong. It's a charity concert for the victims and really this city as they're moving on here and moving forward. That will be later this month. We'll talk about that more in a minute.

But for more on the latest developments here in this investigation, Deborah Feyerick joins me now here. And so, first, just to hear, I was just talking to someone the other day saying, you know what, I love this city, I want to be here for the 4th of July. And to hear that that is what their intent was initially -- right?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's something a law enforcement official told CNN that basically in conversation with investigators Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said that they were thinking about July 4th. So he says that. But now investigators have to basically go and prove that and see whether, in fact, that's something he simply said or whether, in fact, that was their original intent. Aspirational versus operational, operation versus aspirational. So that's what they were looking at. But again, sources I've spoken to say the way they were able to execute the attack on the marathon, it was clear that they had a lot of foresight, that they had planned it, they had walked the route, that it was just too precise how they were able to pull it off, do it successfully, and then simply slip away.

BALDWIN: Despite the fact that officials are saying that they didn't up and decide it a couple days before, hey, we'll just target the finish line.

FEYERICK: Right. You know what, and there are just certain things that don't make sense.


FEYERICK: And it's something that you and I have talked about. When something doesn't make sense, investigators have to figure out what does make sense. And for them to -- again, where they were standing. The fact that they walked one behind the other. Basic trade craft. And then the World Trade Center folks who left here from Boston, they did the same thing, they were walking straight behind one another. There's a certain trade craft that's being looked at.

And so, you know, you look at where Dzhokhar was standing and where his brother continued walking, where the brother placed himself, right in front of the cameras, right at the front - right at the finish line, just in view so that you could see the explosion but not see him. It's just -- everything is just -- they either got really, really lucky, Brooke, or they knew exactly what they were doing and planned it without a hitch.

BALDWIN: What about now, Tamerlan Tsarnaev? Just being in town now for a couple of weeks, that's sort of been the talk among Bostonians I've talked to, cabbies. I mean they're using words I can't repeat on television when it comes to what to do with this body.


BALDWIN: And no one here wants this Tamerlan Tsarnaev buried anywhere near the city of Boston, let alone in Massachusetts, yet we now know the family has claimed it and what are their plans?

FEYERICK: Well, the plans right now is -- we know that the medical examiner's office released the body yesterday at about 5:20. It left in what we believe was a black hearse. It was taken to one funeral home. But then there were some protests at that funeral home, so they moved it to another funeral home in Worcester, Massachusetts. We understand the family wants another autopsy. They simply don't believe that Tamerlan died the way he's alleged to have died following that shootout.

BALDWIN: They want an independent autopsy. Wow.

FEYERICK: Exactly. So there's a lot of conspiracy theories, especially overseas, as to how this happened, how they were able to pull it off and whether, in fact, he really died following the shoot-out or as a result of the shoot-out. But that's sort of all conspiracy theory, but they just want it done. So he'll be buried here.

BALDWIN: We will be talking to Brian Todd, who I know will be coming up next hour, to talk about how people there in Worcester are absolutely enraged over this whole thing. Understandably so.


BALDWIN: Deborah Feyerick, amazing reporting here. Thank you so much.

And, you know, no amount of money here can certainly bring back a loved one or repair a life absolutely shattered by terrorism. A man who grew up just outside of Boston, Kenneth Feinberg, has this grim task of putting a price tag on this Boston tragedy right here on Boylston Street. So he is set to reveal his proposal this upcoming Monday.

Some Boston bombing victims could get more than $1 million each. Feinberg talked to "The Boston Globe," talked to the families of the three people killed, and victims who lost more than one limb. And he's saying that they may, quote/unquote, "well get over a million dollars each."

Victims who lost a single limb, like Heather Abbott here, may get under a million. Victims with other physical injuries may get smaller amounts. It all depends on how long they were actually sitting here in Boston in the hospital.

Feinberg is well versed in trauma and loss. He oversaw funds for victims of the 9/11 attacks, the Virginia Tech shootings, what we saw this past summer in Aurora, Colorado, and the BP oil spill. So he knows his stuff.

Right now the Boston One Fund has more than $28 million. That is, again, so far. Feinberg wants to disburse the money this upcoming June 30th.

And to the markets we go on this Friday afternoon. We're keeping a close eye on the stock market, closing, of course, in now less than two hours. And we could see -- we could see a major milestone. The Dow closing above the 15,000 mark for the very first time. This is a huge, huge jump since February 1st when the Dow crossed that 14,000 mark at the closing bell. Look at it now, just shy, just shy of 15,000.

The unemployment report, let's talk about that, because the April jobs numbers, that was released this morning. And so the number of jobs up 165,000 in April. That's also news. That's more than what was expected. You have retailers and bars and restaurants, they are all hearing. The unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent.

To California. Huge, huge fire northwest of Los Angeles. It has burned now 10,000 acres since yesterday. Look at this. That is just when it started just yesterday. It is burning across the mountains, above the coastal highway. Just 10 percent contained. Kyung Lah is our eyes and ears there.

Kyung Lah, if you look at a map here, it appears that the fire is burning actually across this state park, yet we have seen it come close to homes in the area. Do we have any idea at this point in time how many homes are threatened?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've just actually spoken to the Ventura County Fire Department and they say that there are some homes, a pocket of homes, south of where I'm at that they're very concerned about. These are homes that are in some canyons. So we're trying to figure out exactly what the firefight there is looking like.

I'm actually on the north end of this fire. For reference, this is Highway 1, the on-ramp to Highway 1 right behind me. And just beyond that, it is white. That is all smoke that you're seeing here. The winds shifted just shortly after we got here. There's actually active fire back here. You can't see it, though, because of the intense smoke. And as we pivot over this way, the winds are basically pushing all the smoke this way. What firefighters are dealing with here are these intense shifting winds which makes this fire very unpredictable.

What's over this way, again, straight through that white smoke, that area over there is the Point Nugun (ph) Naval Station. Firefighters were concerned about that. But there's actually a wetland, a marsh, that they hope that this north end of the fire, they'll be actually able to push it right into the Pacific Ocean. So what firefighters say that is all over this fire is this. This is how dry everything is here in California.


LAH: It is basically fuel for this fire. And so firefighters have a very tough job ahead of them, especially with these winds. They say until about 2:00 local time here, 5:00 Eastern, they really have an upward battle. They're hoping to try to contain this fire a little built more. Right now still only at 10 percent containment, Brooke.

BALDWIN: The dryness and the wind not at all a good combination. Kyung, do me a favor if you can. I want you to just step out of the shot because I want to just take this shot full of the smoke that you've been showing us. And as you all do so, I want to bring in my next guest to continue this conversation of these wildfires. Catherine Saillant is joining me now on the phone, of the "L.A. Times."

And so, Katherine, I know you have a unique perspective in the fact that your home was threatened in this fire in Ventura County. And as I understand, you were away from the home when you got the news. Is that correct?

CATHERINE SAILLANT, "L.A. TIMES" (on camera): Yes. Hi, Brooke. Thanks for having me.

You're absolutely correct. I work in downtown Los Angeles, so I was in downtown Los Angeles when I got news that there was an evacuation in place for this fire, which was about two hours into it, and that my home was in the evacuation zone. So I had to go hop in my car and start racing home. That's about 60 miles north of Los Angeles. It took me about an hour. And I'll tell you, it felt like an eternity. During that time, my daughter got to our home before me, and she's 20, and she went around and found our three cats, put them into containers, and then sat and watched the TV news as the flames grew closer and smoke just surrounded our neighborhood. And she just kept calling me saying, when are you going to be here? When are you going to be here? And by the time I got there, my neighbors were all packing up their cars and leaving. We did the same thing. And after I got our photographs and important papers into the car, I asked Taylor if she was OK and was it OK if I went and did a little reporting. And she kind of reluctantly agreed, Brooke, and that's what I did.

BALDWIN: So you're juggling between do I wear the reporter hat, which I know as a journalist in your gut, you know, you want to wear, but at the same time, look, this is your home, this is your family. Tell me, how long have you been at the "L.A. Times"? I mean there are all kinds of wildfires I know we've covered out there. Has this ever happened to you before so close to home?

SAILLANT: I've covered fires in southern California for about 24 years now. I've covered dozens of wildfires in the past and haven't really thought about how I go up to people in moments of trauma and ask them how they feel and what their plans are. But I can tell you it feels a lot different when it's happening to you because a little bit of shock sets in and I felt kind of dazed. Even at the same time that my -- the reporter in me was saying, go to the blackened hills and talk to people. I kept losing my pen and my glasses. And it was a different experience and I think I learned something about it.

BALDWIN: Talk about empathy instead of sympathy as a journalist. Catherine Saillant, we wish you and your daughter well. Hope you all stay safe and that your home is a-OK.

Kyung Lah, thank you as well. Appreciate it, both of you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want him to look the mother in the eye who's lost her child. I want him to see the pain.


BALDWIN: A mother confronts her senator over his vote on the gun bill, and she's not alone. Coming up next, the blowback against so many lawmakers as the NRA hosts its convention this very moment in Houston, Texas. Some big, big names already getting ready to speak.

Plus, new video just in of this horrific train wreck. Stay right here.


BALDWIN: The NRA, the National Rifle Association, members are assembling today in Houston, fresh off a major victory. You have Sarah Palin, she's there, Ted Nugent's there, Glenn Beck is there. The pro- gun group says 70,000 people will be there basking in the glow of that recent defeat in the Senate of a bill that would have subjected more gun sales to background checks. That said, the gun lobby is going to have to reload pretty quickly here because gun control supporters are planning a second vote on that bill and they are already fighting. Our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash reports.


CAREN TEVES, MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: Hello. Is the senator in today?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Caren Teves son was killed in the Colorado movie massacre.

TEVES: Will you let him know that Caren Teves was here again.

BASH: She's been trying, unsuccessfully, to see her senator, Republican Jeff Flake, since he voted against expanding gun background checks last month. To capture her frustration, the gun control groups Mayors Against Illegal Guns sent her to try again, this time inviting cameras.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want him to look a mother in the eye who's lost her child. I want him to see the pain.

BASH: It's just one part of a coordinated effort to use this week's Senate recess to keep the gun control issue alive, despite losing the pivotal background check vote. Earlier this week, the same group sent Erica Lafferty (ph), daughter of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung, to New Hampshire to confront Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte. The group helped CNN get this footage. She also voted against expanding background checks, calling them a burden on gun owners.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't as important as that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As you and I both know, the issue wasn't a background check system issue at Sandy Hook.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The amendment is not agreed to.

BASH: In order to find the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, supporters need to change some half a dozen Senate minds, going after Republicans and Democrats.


BASH: Montana's Max Baucus was one of four Senate Democrats to vote no on expanding background checks. A liberal group is trying to pressure him with this new ad, featuring a gun-owning grandmother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aimed my handgun at the door and waited. Guns can protect us, but we're less safe with guns in the wrong hands.

BASH: The NRA isn't taking anything for granted, pushing just as hard to keep those senators in their corner, running radio ads praising Senate no voters like Ayotte.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, ADVERTISEMENT: And it's why Kelly had the courage to oppose misguided gun control laws.

BASH: Gun control groups insist senators who voted against expanding background checks, widely popular, are taking a hit with constituents. A new survey conducted by a pro-Democratic polling firm showed Ayotte's approval rating dropping and found Flake now the most unpopular senator in the country, prompting him to say on his FaceBook page, "that probably puts me somewhere just below pond scum." Outside Flake's office, Caren Teves holds up a letter Flake wrote before voting no, telling her, quote, "strengthening background checks is something we agree on."

TEVES: After receiving this letter, I would expect Senator Flake to look me in the eye and explain why he ignored me.


BASH: Now, Brooke, a spokeswoman for Senator Flake told me the reason he voted no was that the amendment was written too broadly and would have, quote, "encroached on private sales." But now Flake does hope that there will be changes made so he can support the measure. And I actually, Brooke, talked just earlier this afternoon to a Senate source who said that Joe Manchin, whose the Democrat who is behind all this, is going to sit down with some of those key senators, like Flake and others, to try to find some change that will give them political cover. He thinks that they actually want to vote for something but need to at least say, look, I forced a change and it will happen.

But if you take a look at what's happening right now in Houston, the NRA convention, Wayne LaPierre is speaking, and you can bet that he is going to fight very hard to keep those senators in his corner.

BALDWIN: Political cover, huh? We will see if they can do it here in round two in Washington. Dana Bash, thank you very much.

You know one of the largest school districts in America is under fire and accused of fraud. Coming up next, how some employees allegedly scammed the system.

Plus, an unlikely duo strike a pose. Why Chris Christie and Jon Bon are teaming up.


BALDWIN: Now to some of the hottest stories in a flash. "Rapid Fire." Roll it.

Take a look at this train derailment today in a suburb of San Antonio, Texas. And really you can see, this was a - this is a chain reaction here. At least 10 cars derailed in this zigzag fashion. The train wasn't hauling anything hazardous, thanks goodness. No injuries have been reported.

In Ohio, police have seized records at 20 Columbus city schools over a possible cheating scandal. A state auditor is investigating whether employees changed the grades and attendance records of struggling students. It's gotten reports of schools manipulating data to improve overall state performance scores last summer. The school district says it is fully cooperating with authorities.

Here you have, on the left, rocker Jon Bon Jovi. On the right, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signing a bill into law that provides legal protection for people who overdose on drugs. It's designed to encourage reporting of overdoses so victims don't end up dead.


JON BON JOVI, MUSICIAN: And I hope that Governor Christie's actions here will cause other states to stand up and to pay attention and also to follow in his footsteps.


BALDWIN: So here's Jon Bon Jovi's tie to this whole story. His family has recently been affected by drugs. His daughter reportedly overdosed on heroin in her dorm room last fall.

The third annual CNN i-Report awards voting is underway. We have scoured from some of the best that you have sent us in 2012 and we're so grateful for that. But now you can choose. You can pick the one you think best enhanced CNN's storytelling. So take a look at this. These are the nominees in the compelling image category.


BALDWIN: There are only three days left you can cast your vote. Go to

And when we come back here, as we've been in Boston covering the aftermath of the Boylston Street explosions, we are now learning new information on what investigators have found inside the apartment just over the river from me in Cambridge in that apartment that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were sharing. That new detail, next.