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Boston Marathon Terror Investigation; South California Wildfire; U.S. Military Plane Crashes; Wanted For Domestic Terrorism

Aired May 3, 2013 - 08:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm John Berman.


Our STARTING POINT: disturbing new developments in the Boston bombing investigation. The suspects allegedly had another plot in mind. A suicide attack on a national holiday. What we're now learning, live from Boston.

BERMAN: And wildfires burning across southern California have forced hundreds from their homes. It's a live look right now at a hill side engulfed in flames. Look at that picture. Fire fighters desperately trying to put this out as 8,000 acres and it may only get worse.

We will have a live report.

ROMANS: And we're expecting the April jobs report expected in 30 minutes after March's disappointing numbers. What can we expect? We're going to break down the numbers and what they for you.

BERMAN: And a first for the FBI. A woman added to the most-wanted terrorist list. We are live from Cuba with the details in a moment.

It is Friday, May 3rd.

And STARTING POINT begins right now.


ROMANS: Major new developments this morning in the Boston marathon terror investigation. CNN has learned the bombs allegedly detonated by the Tsarnaev brothers were built in Tamerlan's apartment, where he lived with his wife and child.

And the Boston marathon was not their original target. They plan to carry out a suicide attack a huge holiday gathering. But then they changed gears.

Also, Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body now finally claimed by his uncle and sisters who plan an independent autopsy.

But there's new controversy about where the body should be covered.

Lots to cover.

Jason Carroll is live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Good morning, Jason.

JASON CAROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And let's start with that new information, Christine. Investigators learned about the information during an interview with Tsarnaev. Tsarnaev told him that he and his brothers built the bomb here at this apartment building and the original plan was for both of the brothers to detonate those bombs on Independence Day.


CARROLL (voice-over): A U.S. law enforcement official tells CNN the Tsarnaev brothers initially considered a suicide attack during the Fourth of July celebration, when Boston's Charles River esplanade is typically packed with spectators for an open-air concert and fireworks. All of this according to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who told investigators they moved up the date to the Boston marathon because the bombs were ready sooner than expected. Bombs Tsarnaev says, built in the very home his older brother Tamerlan shared with his wife and child.

Late Thursday, a van believed to be carrying Tamerlan's body, transferred it to a funeral home outside Boston. All this as investigators continue to focus on his widow, Katherine Russell. Yet, it is unclear what, if anything, Russell may have known or suspected.

Russell's attorney says she continues to cooperate with authorities.

And authorities also have more questions for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's three friends from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, now facing charges of obstructing justice, and lying to authorities. One of whom led authorities to Tsarnaev's laptop, which could provide more clues.

And as the investigation continues, so, too, does the recovery for victims, like Marc Fucarile, who lost a leg in the bombing. The other leg shattered. His arms riddled with shrapnel.

MARC FUCARILE, BOMBING VICTIM: I was scared because it was dark. I thought I was dead. I thought it was over.

CARROLL: Fucarile says he draws strength every day from a photo of his 5-year-old son.

FUCARILE: They stuck me with another needle or they cut me or they put something or did something, whenever they change the Band-Aid (ph), I look at that picture. That's what got me through it.


CARROLL: And, Christine, in addition to learning more about the bombing, we are also hearing more about Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body will be buried. As you know, many people here in the community have expressed concern about him being buried here.

Well, we're learning that an uncle claimed the body last night. Tamerlan Tsarnaev's family wants an independence autopsy to be performed first. But we are hearing from a spokesperson in Russia that they want his body buried in Boston -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Jason Carroll -- thank you, Jason.

BERMAN: We have more big news. A frightening scene in southern California. Flames cascading down the mountain as a massive wildfire burns out of control in Ventura County. It's already scorched 8,000 acres, smoke and flames threatening some 2,000 homes in Camarillo and nearby communities, forcing evacuations. The fire only 10 percent contained right now and it appears crews will not get any immediate help from the weather either.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is live in Ventura County for us. Good morning, Stephanie.


I can tell you within the last hour or so, the winds have started to kick up again. And just above us, the hill above us, the fire has crested over the mountain and it's now starting to burn slowly down towards us. We're keeping our eyes on it obviously. But as you can see, there's all sorts of embers flying around.

The problem, this is not the only fire burning in California and that is taxing all kinds of people who are trying to make sure these fires get out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just came in like that.

ELAM (voice-over): High winds, soaring temperatures and dry brush are giving California fire season an early start.

Wildfires across the state are churning toward home, keeping hundreds of firefighters busy, and residents on edge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stay until I know that my house is still here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As long as our family and our dogs are safe, we can get through this.

ELAM: Fire sprouted up in four southern California counties over the last couple of days. Two of the fires were contained quickly.

JULIE HUTCHINSON, BATTALION CHIEF, CALFIRE: We staffed up several weeks ago. We brought on air tankers, hired seasonal firefighters. What it bodes for us is what the rest of the year is going to be like and are we going to wear people out. That's the bigger question.

ELAM: But as firefighters were getting a handle on the summit fire burning about 25 miles west of Palm Springs, a blaze in Ventura County began to spread quickly, on 25-mile-per-hour winds.

Erupting between the 101 Freeway and the Pacific Ocean, north of Malibu, the so-called Springs Fire charred about 6,500 acres in just five hours.

HUTCHINSON: Now, we're getting those hot, long days, winds, and the low humidities, and this stuff is just ripe and ready to burn.

ELAM: It's the number of active fires, including three burning in northern California, that's making this outbreak unusual.

HUTCHINSON: We don't see this type of activity usually until August, September.

ELAM: In the wake of the summit fire, one man is dealing with immeasurable loss. His mother, who bought this home in 1973, passed away just one month ago.

JOE KIENER, HOUSE BURNED DOWN: Thank God I wasn't in the house when it happened. Thank God I was able to get my dog out, and my mom was watching over me. And so, are the neighbors that are around.


ELAM: That fire that took his home is now about 55 percent contained. And it burned about 3,000 acres. Here where I am, 140 miles in a Ventura County, just to show quickly they are responding.

We had reports of a little grass fire a few miles away. They got on it very quickly. It is out. Not taking any chances. As you can see, with these winds, fire can spread very quickly.

BERMAN: It sure can. Again, a tough conditions ahead today, Stephanie Elam for us in California, thanks so much.

ROMANS: So, those fires that Stephanie reported, fueled by dry, hot temperatures, dusty winds. Will there be more of that today.

Jennifer Delgado live in the CNN weather for us.

Jennifer, describe to us what you're seeing that they're up against right now?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right now, they're starting to see those winds picking up. Stephanie said, we're going to see those winds in the morning hours, up to about 35 miles per hour. Some of the mountains, up to 45.

Anywhere you're seeing a pink, that is our red-flag warning area, and that's part of southern California. But we time the winds, as we go through the morning, 8:00 a.m. Notice those gusts back up to 24, as well as 29 for Camarillo.

As we go through the morning, that's when we'll start to see some improvement, especially by about noon to 1:00, as we stop the clock here. Notice, those gusts, they drop back down to single digits. So, that's better news, but keep in mind, it doesn't take much to retrigger some of these fires across the region.

It's not just fires that we're following. We're also talking about big-time flooding that's been happening across parts of Florida. In fact, we have some video coming into us from Ft. Lauderdale. We showed this earlier.

But look at people driving through flooded streets. This is what's happening, this is the reality, what's going to be happening throughout the weekend.

But it's not just Florida. We're also going to see that setting up for parts of the Midwest as I take over to our graphic. Jacksonville, Florida, right now, dealing with those showers and thunderstorms, some very heavy rainfall.

And across parts of the Midwest, the same storm that brought the snow that's going to bring two to four inches of snowfall for the Midwest as we go through Monday. But for the next 48 hours, here's what the heaviest rainfall is going to be for parts of Florida, we could see 10 to 13 inches possible and then for the Midwest, two to four.

Now, keep in mind, Kentucky derby on Saturday and I think there's a big race in Alabama on Sunday as well. And it looks like rain in Talladega.

ROMANS: Rain in Talladega. You heard it here.

DELGADO: They don't like that.

ROMANS: No, they don't.

BERMAN: They were nice, as they say.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much.

BERMAN: All right. We have some breaking news to tell you about right.

An American military refueling plane has crashed in a mountainous region of Kyrgyzstan and there were five people on board. The Pentagon says it was a KC-135 plane. We're going to bring you more details as they become available to us.

ROMANS: North Korea will eventually have a long-range ballistic missile that can deliver nuclear weapons to the United States. That's according to a Pentagon report to Congress. The annual reports cites the North's advances in ballistic missile systems, as well as its developments in nuclear technology.

It called North Korea one of the biggest threats to the U.S. because of its willingness to undertake provocative behavior.

BERMAN: President Obama throwing his support to the FDA to allow over the counter sales of the Plan B emergency contraceptive pills to females 15 and older. Critics say girls that young should not be able to buy the morning-after pill without doctor's apparent approval.

Earlier this week, the FDA appealed a federal judge's order to make the emergency contraceptives available over the counter with no age restriction.

ROMANS: A California man accused of raping women that he met through the dating Web site will soon find out if there's enough evidence for him to stand trial, once the preliminary hearing for Sean Patrick Banks wraps up today, a judge will make a decision. One of banks' accusers testified yesterday that he attacked her within 10 minutes of visiting her home in November. A second woman has also come forward, claiming she was raped by banks on a third date in 2009.

BERMAN: A Minnesota lawman says he's lucky to be alive after getting shot in the face while scouting a spot to go turkey hunting. Washington County sheriff's commander Jerry Cusick got shot at close range by another turkey hunter. The 53-year-old Cusick survived but now has more than 50 scars across his face, neck, and chest.


JERRY CUSICK, SHOT BY TURKEY HUNTER: I just screamed something to the effect of, you just shot me! And a lot of things are going through your mind. You're thinking, you are going to die.


BERMAN: After getting shot, commander Cusick drove his truck to a nearby farm where paramedics found him and rushed him to the hospital. An investigation is under way. The 27-year-old man who shot Cusick may eventually face criminal charges.

ROMANS: Rocker Jon Bon Jovi joining New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as he signs the Overdose Protection Act into law. The measure encourages people to report drug overdoes without fear of being arrested.

Bon Jovi's daughter reportedly overdosed on heroin in her New York dorm last year. Misdemeanor charges were dropped because of a similar protection law in New York.

BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, four years after a state trooper was murdered, the woman who did it is on the FBI's most wanted terror list. She's the first woman to ever make that list. We're going to go live to Cuba after the break, where she's believed to be living -- hiding.

BERMAN: Then, in just minutes, we're getting the big April jobs report. Are companies hiring? More importantly, where are companies hiring? This report will show specifically where job growth is.

You're watching STARTING POINT.


BERMAN: For the first time ever, a woman is on the FBI's most-wanted terrorist list. Sixty-five-year-old Joanne Chesimard known now as Assata Shakur was convicted of murdering New Jersey State trooper, Warner Forester (ph) in 1973. ROMANS: She escaped from prison in 1979 and has been living under political asylum in Cuba since 1984. CNNs Patrick Oppmann is live this morning in Havana with more. Good morning, Patrick.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. And $2 million (ph) dollars is a lot in that country an unimaginable fortune here in Cuba, but don't expect Assata Shakur to be turned over anytime soon. She's been living here for nearly 20 years and not really hiding out. You know, there are about 70 U.S. fugitives from just as the FBI estimates living here in Cuba.

And a lot of these people are met with over the years, and they don't live very happy lives here. They thought they were coming to sort of a revolutionary paradise and are frankly very disappointed, want to go back to the United States, but of course, many of them are accused of committing violent crimes and face really long jail sentences.

But Assata Shakur is a little bit different. She's so high profile, so the Cuban government has allowed her to speak to university groups here, allowed her to publish autobiography, allow her to do some media interviews over the year. So, she's something of a star in terms of when it comes to fugitives. She's wanted for horrible crimes back in the United States, but always comes at the same time that the U.S. is putting pressure on Cuba to return some of its people.

Cuba desperately wants the U.S. to take -- the list of countries that sponsor state terrorism and the message from the United States seems to be as long as you harbor people like Assata Shakur, that's just not going to happen.

ROMANS: You've spoken to her in the past. You know, you say it's an unimaginable amount of money, $2 million in reward money in Cuba, but can she be brought back to justice in the U.S.?

OPPMANN: Not without the Cuban government deciding to hand her over. And, of course, when she came here in the 1980s, it was a somewhat different political climate. The cold war was raging and Cuba did allow people who were involved with violent leftist groups to come here, and of course, Cuba counters (ph) said much of the fact that she's now on the terrorism list, but Cuba counters that there are a lot of people on the United States that they say committed terrorist acts here in Cuba, that they'd like brought back.

But when I met with Joanne Chesimard, Assata Shakur, you know, she really believes that the United States is a country that she was trying to bring down, and she described it as a racist police state. And she was somebody here who didn't seem to be hiding or afraid. She was seemed very comfortable and seemed very sure when I met with her that she wasn't going to be sent back any time soon.

You know, people are saying now that she's sort of a bargaining chip. If U.S. wants to get her back, they're going to have to give something to Cuba, but right now, it just doesn't seem like that's going to happen. She'll be here safe as she has been for the last 20 years.

ROMANS: So, she thought she was waging war against a racist police state. She never -- she doesn't -- you talked to her for, I guess, more than an hour. She didn't say she was remorseful for killing an American?

OPPMANN: No remorse whatsoever. She's never admitted to the violence, but, you know, she justifies that she says to the FBI was trying to assassinate her and that she was waging war, and so bank had to be robbed, people had to be killed if innocent bystanders got in the way. Well, she and this very, very radical groups that she was fighting with, you know, that was just part of their war.

So, she certainly hasn't tempered her views, and certainly when I talked to her years ago, didn't feel any remorse for the crimes she's accused of.

ROMANS: Patrick Oppmann in Havana for us. Thank you.

BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, Lindsay Lohan in trouble. More trouble for the already troubled starlet.

ROMANS: How many times have you said that on TV?

BERMAN: You know, we just put it on a loop.


BERMAN: You know, this time, you can find her in jail again. It is what is trending coming up next.


ROMANS: Some big music stories trending this morning. Heavy metal fans around the world mourning the death of Slayer guitarist, Jeff Hanneman. Forty-nine years old Grammy winning guitarist and songwriter, he died Thursday of liver failure in Southern California. He had been recovering from a flesh-eating virus caused by a spider bite.

BERMAN: That's just awful.

ROMANS: Forty-nine years old.

BERMAN: All right. Other music news, not so grim. The Rolling Stones kick off their 50 and counting tour tonight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Former guitarist, Nick Taylor, who played on some classic Stones albums before leaving the band in 1974, he will join his old mates on this tour. But get this, the show is not sold out yet.

ROMANS: That's the first time, I think, they haven't sold out a show.

BERMAN: Why? Well, some say it's because the tickets are priced between 250 and 600 bucks. That's expensive. A limited number of $85 tickets were offered this week. Those were quickly snapped up by eager fans. But again, 250 to 600 yikes

ROMANS: Woh! All right. A little progress for a very little robot. Harvard University announcing a minor breakthrough for its robo bee. After a dozen years of trying, the dime-sized robot has successfully completed its first controlled flight, but it still has a way to go before it can fly off its very own. It's still tethered for power and control. But very cool.

BERMAN: The robo bee tethered for not much longer, hopefully.

So, Lindsay Lohan could be in trouble with the law again. We just said it, again. The troubled actress was supposed to start 90 days in lockdown rehab Thursday, but apparently, the facility apparently did not meet her standards, so she stormed out after just a few hours. Lindsay's father, Michael, said, quote, "she was not happy with the place."

Lohan she faces arrest because rehab was supposed to be an alternative to a three-month jail term for two misdemeanor convictions and a probation violation back in March. You know, what can you say at this point?

ROMANS: I'm speechless. I mean, she's doing this as an alternative to jail. I mean, she could end up in jail. What -- can --

BERMAN: Got anything -- she did not like the rehab, was not an option in this case.

ROMANS: All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT, we're just minutes away from the jobs report for April. The March numbers were disappointing. Are we in for more bad news? We're going to bring you that report live.

BERMAN: And a billboard for a flooring and carpet company.


BERMAN: Well, it's throwing up some controversy. I wonder why.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are becoming desensitized to smut and stuff that goes on in the world today.


BERMAN: What's getting folks so hot and bothered, next. Gosh, I wonder. You're watching STARTING POINT.


BERMAN: All right. Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. I'm John Berman along with Christine Romans. And we are now less than two minutes away from the latest big April jobs report. Coming up, again, Christine Romans is here monitoring that when it breaks in less than two minutes. Christine, what are we expecting?

ROMANS: 140,000 jobs is what we're expecting, and it's not enough really to bring down the unemployment rate, so the jobless rate expected to stay at about 7.6 percent. What I'm going to be looking for specifically in here, government jobs lost or created.

Private sector, how sustainable does that trend look, because you've seen over the past three years, John, something were calling the spring spoon where you've seen strength in January and February and it starts to peter off early -- peter out in the middle of the spring and kind of into the summer.

And that's happened now. This would be the third year in a row if it sticks. We say yesterday the jobless claims at a five-year low. That's great. That means layoffs are slowing, but we haven't seen companies really kick in the hiring a lot. It's been leisure and hospitality. It's been in health care. It's been professional business services, but not enough to meaningfully lower the unemployment rate.

BERMAN: Less than one minute to go right now. And Christine, we'll have to jump off in a second to listen to these numbers as they come in. But again, last month, disappointing numbers.

ROMANS: It was. It was 88,000 last month, and that kind of shocked people because they were looking for much more than that. And when you look at the trend, again, you can see sort of the slow down over the last couple of months. It is still positive jobs creation. It still is an unemployment rate that has been sliding down since really 2009, but over the past year as well.

But, you know, what's going to be the next? It just feels kind of like blah in the labor market right now. You got companies talking about new health care laws, companies talking about the sequester, uncertainty in Washington, and they really just haven't had robust demand. They've been able to still make money without adding a lot of workers. And as long as they can do that, that's good for them.

BERMAN: All right. Pick up your phone and listen to these numbers --


BERMAN: I want to bring in Grover Norquist. Of course, Grover is the head of Americans for Tax Reform. I also want to bring in Kenneth Baer. Kenneth Baer is former associate director for Office of Management Budget under President Obama. He is currently the managing director of the Harbor Group. Kenneth, let me just start with you. Complete the sentence for me. The current jobs environment is X?

KENNETH BAER, FMR. ASSOC. DIR. OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT & BUDGET (2009- 2012): I'd think -- you said it right. It's blah. I mean, it seems like, right now, we're kind of treading water, and unfortunately, doing so, not because of any macro factors in the global economy. We're doing it because of self-inflicted wounds happening from Washington, specifically the effect of sequestration that are going to affect right now. We're really feeling that.