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Suspected Bomber's Death Certificate; Calf. Fire Threatens 4,000 Homes; L.A. Rain in the Forecast; Market Soar on April Jobs Number; Extra Security at Derby Today; Investigation Into Boston Bombings Continues; NRA's Annual Meeting

Aired May 4, 2013 - 06:00   ET


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to our continuing coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing. I'm Randi Kaye coming to you live from Boston. It is 6:00 here. Thanks, everyone, for starting your day with us.

New clues now in how the Boston bombing suspects planned their destruction. The discovery investigators made inside the house that suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev shared with his wife and baby daughter.

Fires in southern California have scorched 28,000 acres and are now threatening 4,000 homes. So how close are firefighters to getting the upper hand?

And how many times did you check your 401(k) yesterday? Well, if you wanted a lift, probably quite a few times. Why Wall Street's record day just made your nest egg grow.

Now to the Boston bombings. The death certificate confirms the violent final moments of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's death. The owner of the funeral home handling the suspected bomber's burial read the document to CNN and says it shows Tsarnaev died from gunshot wounds of torso and extremities and blunt trauma to head and torso. As we know what lead to his death, it's still not clear what will happen to Tsarnaev now. His body sits in this Worcester funeral parlor. In the meantime, his younger brother is revealing new details about their plans. Let's turn to CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti, joining me this morning here in Boston.

So, Susan, investigators have figured out where the bombs were built. What do we know?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they figured this out during their interviews with Dzhokhar, the younger brother, Dzhokhar, at bedside when they were interrogating him initially. And he told investigators, according to our sources, that it was built right there in the apartment where his older brother lived, Tamerlan, along with his wife and young child. Hard to believe, but apparently that is what he claimed.

But it goes more than that. They aren't just taking his word for that. According to our sources, they also found explosive residue on the kitchen sink, on the kitchen table and in the bathtub about -- of their apartment. But again, it's hard to fathom how that could have been constructed in that apartment possibly without Tamerlan's wife knowing about it.

KAYE: Yes.

CANDIOTTI: But, of course, that's a key focus for them. They're still questioning her.

KAYE: Especially in the main area of that apartment.

What about his body? Where -- do we know anything about his body or his burial at this point?

CANDIOTTI: Well, the body finally was moved from the medical examiner's office the other day and is now at a funeral home in Worcester. The body was claimed by and it was moved there by a member of Tsarnaev's family, not by the widow. So we still don't have any idea of what the funeral arrangements are. However, some people in the community are not happy that there's even a thought being given to burying him in their neighborhood.

KAYE: Yes, absolutely. All right, Susan, we'll check back with you a little bit later on this morning and throughout the morning. Thank you.

And now another nugget. A source also tells CNN that investigators continue to search the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus where Dzhokhar went to school. The source says that loud explosions had been heard in the area over the last several months. An indication the suspects were possibly testing devices.

Authorities in Kyrgyzstan are searching for the source of pamphlets that appear to defend the surviving suspect in the Boston bombings. The pamphlets feature Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's photo and declare he's innocent. They're being circulated in the capital city of Bishkek. Tsarnaev was born in Kyrgyzstan but left when he was eight. Officials have denied he adopted a radical ideology in their country.

And now this morning, the U.S. believes Israel has conducted an air strike into Syria. Two U.S. officials tell CNN, the attack likely happened Thursday or Friday and did not involve a breach of Syrian air space. Israeli hasn't commented. Israeli officials long have vowed to strike targets they think are being used to transfer weapons to Hezbollah or other terrorists groups. Israel's ambassador to the U.S. spoke Friday with CNN's Jake Tapper.


MICHAEL OREN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: What I can say is that we have a very clear policy that if the Syria regime tries to transfer chemical weapons or what we call game-changing weaponry to terrorist organizations, particularly to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel will not remain passive. We're very serious about it.


KAYE: Now to Los Angeles, where a fast-growing wildfire is threatening thousands of homes. The blaze has scorched 28,000 acres in Ventura County and damaged more than two dozen homes and buildings already. Authorities have ordered mandatory evacuations for parts of the area northwest of L.A. CNN's Kyung Lah is in Ventura County for us.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Randi, firefighters have gotten the upper hand on this part of the fire. This is the northern plank of the fire. You can see all this charred hillside. Well, this was the scene of a very tough fight for firefighters. This was all once on fire. Just on the other side of this hill, and what's known as a spring fire, very much an active fight going on.

This fire has proven to be unpredictable and very dangerous. What's kept it contained, helicopter water drops and merciless work from the ground crews. Firefighters who have been going house by house trying to save thousands of homes which are still under threat. It has been a hot fight so far.


LAH: Is it better today versus yesterday?

CAPT. SCOTT DETTORRE, VENTURA COUNTY FIRE DEPT.: What's better today is we're going to have more forces in place to combat the fire with. But what's probably going to be worse today is the weather.

LAH: You just going to let this thing burn right into the ocean?

DETTORRE: That's - yes, that's the plan. When we've got this much wind behind it, that's really about all we can do. We get on the flanks. We want to get on the side of it. We try to contain it and we try to run this thing right into the Pacific Ocean.


LAH: The good news is that there is an improvement in the weather forecast. As soon as Sunday, there may, just may, be some rain.


KAYE: Kyung Lah, thank you very much.

And take a look at these incredible satellite images of the southern California wildfire. You can see just how far it has spread, fueled by winds.

So, will firefighters in Ventura County see that much hoped for rain soon? Let's hope so. Let's go right to CNN meteorologist Alexandra Steele.

Alexandra, good morning to you. So how is the forecast looking?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right, good morning to you.

Well, we are going to see some good news and some bad news, so let me kind of dope it out for you and show you. What we have seen that has exacerbated these wildfires so dramatically are these hot, strong, offshore winds. Temperatures in the 90s yesterday. That is all chancing. Temperatures coming down into the '70s. And now we're going to see a more humid, onshore flow. Also, possible rain showers in the forecast Sunday through Tuesday. And let me show you when we will see that.

Also, though, the bad news. The showers we will see will be very light. And also, the potential for thundershowers, and they could be dry, meaning we could see lightning, which certainly could spark new fires with this very dry tinder. And then also shifting winds and the swirling winds have what's been such a big problem for firefighters. Forecast today out in the 90s, certainly good news, 75 degrees. Only no chance barely today for rain showers. Tomorrow, highs only in the 60s. So much cooler than we've seen. Much higher humidity. A 30 percent chance for rain. It's really late Sunday into Monday.

Let me show you the time. This is the future radar. Monday morning, here you go. This is kind of the bulls-eye. Yes, it's rain. Yes, it's light. But anything will be good. So really the best chance for rain is Monday morning. And then you can see kind of some scattered rain showers for Monday and into Tuesday. So that's kind of how it's shaping up. So good news and bad news. On the whole, as an aggregate, Randi, incredibly good news because temperatures are coming down and the winds are shifting direction with a lot more moisture in them.

KAYE: Yes. So overall, though, Alexandra, are we looking at a pretty dangerous fire season ahead?

STEELE: Absolutely. Certainly a bad omen for this wildfire season. The wildfire season doesn't usually start until at least August, but they've been in a two-year drought. Only have the amount of rain. You know, and if you're there, looking at all the brush on the sides of those mountains, it should be green this time of year. It's not. It's tinder brown. So ripe for wildfires. And then these hot wind and these hot temperatures really kind of allowing these fires to really explode. So it certainly does not portend a good wildfire season. It's very scary at that.

KAYE: Yes. And some of those pictures are just incredible. Alexandra, thank you very much.

Now to Wall Street, where the stock market got a big push from the monthly job numbers that came out on Friday. It's a big boost for 401(k)s. For some perspective, if you invested $10,000 when the market bottomed out at 2009, that money would be worth nearly $24,000 today. That's more than double your investment.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange with more -- Alison.


A milestone day for Wall Street after a better than expected monthly jobs report. The U.S. economy added 165,000 jobs in April, that's according to the latest report from the Labor Department, while the unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent, the lowest level since December of 2008. And February and March numbers, those were revised higher. The Labor Department says the economy added 114,000 more jobs in those months than previous thought. The economy has added an average of 173,000 jobs a month for the last year. But that means March and April were below average months and the economy could be headed for another tough spring and summer.

But that didn't stop some traders from celebrating when the Dow touched 15,000 for the first time ever Friday morning. And the S&P 500 crossed the 1,600 level for the first time ever. That was especially important because the S&P 500 is more closely watched by investors and is typically a better reflection of the average American's investment.

And it's been a while since we've hit a new milestone like this. There was a seven-year drought between Dow 11,000 and Dow 12,000. Then it took less than a year to get from 12,000 in October of 2006 to 14,000 in July of 2007. So that makes almost six years between 14,000 for the first time and 15,000 for the first time.

But here's the problem. The upward momentum is being fueled not just by some decent jobs numbers, but more so by the Federal Reserve. The jobs picture is improving, but it's not fabulous enough to push the Fed out of the mix, which many believe is the reason you're watching stocks rocket to these new highs.

Another milestone we'll have to wait for next week, the first close above 15,000. The Dow ended Friday at 14,973 after a gain of 142 points, but a pretty good day to end the week -- Randi.

KAYE: Alison Kosik, thank you very much.

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, security is extra tight at today's Kentucky Derby. So tight that some people are surprised by what they're not allowed to bring in. That's next.


KAYE: Welcome back.

Today is the Kentucky Derby, an iconic American attention that draws big crowds and lots of media coverage. We are reporting to you from Boston this morning. And you're looking at live pictures there of the memorial that has been set up here. A lot of people coming by still early this morning, but still many to come throughout the day.

As we mentioned, it is the Kentucky Derby. Security is high. So it may not come as a surprise that there's extra security and a lot of concern in Louisville today.

CNN's Pamela Brown is taking a closer look at the extra precautions.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kentucky Derby weekend is usually all about the big hats and the mint juleps, and, of course, the horse races. But nearly three weeks after this sporting event ended in tragedy, folks here are things about more than just waging their bets. BROWN (on camera): Is what happened in Boston on your mind today at all?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it definitely is on my mind just for the fact that it's such a large crowd and you just never know how peoples' intentions are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a - me and my buddy, when we were coming, we were coming from Chicago, and we were both talking today about how -- are you scared at all about it? And obviously it was on the forefront of his mind and the forefront of my mind coming in today.

BROWN (voice-over): Security has been tight at the derby since 9/11, but now officials are cracking down even more.

KEVIN FLANERY, PRESIDENT, CHURCHILL DOWNS: The first thing you do after an event like that is you just get everybody back together and you say, what's the plan? Do we need to make any adjustments?

BROWN: Among those adjustments, a ban on coolers, cans, even large purses, which came as a surprise to some. One hundred additional officers from federal, state and local agencies were brought in to conduct more thorough searches on the estimated 150,000 spectators pouring into Churchill Downs. Most racing fans are taking the increased safety measures in stride.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was happy to hear that they had increased security. It means, you know, less makeup and goodies we can bring in, but it's, you know, it's worth it to just be more comfortable and to know that - that we're going to all look after each other today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I bought (ph) this purse yesterday (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got any (INAUDIBLE) in there?

BROWN: But one change had some women racing to the store.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only thing was, we had to shop for different size purses here. I heard the department stores had a ruler on the counter. Every store you went in, there was a ruler.


KAYE: CNN's Pamela Brown, a Kentucky native, joins us now from Churchill Downs.

Pamela, good morning. So what have you noticed as far as the changes go this year?

BROWN: Well, Randi, you're right, I'm a Kentucky native. I grew up going to the Kentucky Derby. It's interesting to see the change over the years. Ever since 9/11, you could definitely tell security was tightened. You could - you used to be able to walk around wherever you wanted to here, and now we're seeing a big change, especially in light of what happened in Boston, especially at the entrances, Randi, we're seeing a lot more security guards, officers from local, state and federal agencies on hand.

It seems like everywhere you turn, you see a large presence of authorities here at the facility at Churchill Downs. And a lot more metal detection going on at the entrances and bag searches, more thorough bag searches. So it is clear that security is taken very seriously this year and today is really the big test. Last year at the Kentucky Derby there were more than 160,000 people. This year we're expecting a similar crowd.

KAYE: And with such tight security, it certainly going to take some time getting through those lines.

Pam Brown, thank you very much.

Reese Witherspoon's arrest has gone from unfortunate to downright embarrassing. We'll have the highlights from that night, including the now classic question, "I'm obstructing your justice?" that's coming up next.


KAYE: Welcome back, everyone, to our live coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing. We're here at the site of the memorial that's been set up for weeks now. People still coming by even early this morning. They come by, they drop flowers, they -- a lot of folks leave running shoes, they take pictures, they light some candles, just paying their respect to those that were injured and lost in that bombing.

I'm Randi Kaye, reporting live from Boston this morning. I want to check in now with my colleague, Victor Blackwell, who is live in Atlanta this morning with a look at some of the other news making headlines.

Good morning, Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Randi. Thank you.

This is some really scary video. And this seems like a video game with a first person perspective of a gunfight. But what you're about to see is real. And we have to warn you, this is disturbing.

Medfield Police in Ohio, they released that dash cam video from a patrol unit. Investigators say -- look at the windshield. Investigator say James Gilkerson, the man who was there with the gun, shot two officers in March. Those officers are recovering from their injuries now. But Gilkerson was killed. Our affiliate WKYC reports police still do not know why he started shooting.

Rapper Lil Wayne is officially no longer doing the Dew, that is endorsing Pepsi's soft drink Mountain Dew. Here's one commercial.


LIL WAYNE, RAPPER: Why be anyone else? Why not can (ph) Dew (INAUDIBLE)? I'm Lil Wayne and this is how I Dew. Why Dew it alone.


BLACKWELL: Yes, he can Dew himself now without Mountain Dew. Pepsi is severing ties. They say, "we do not plan any addition work with Lil Wayne moving forward. His offensive reference to a revered civil rights icon does not reflect the values of our brand."

Now this statement refers to Lil Wayne rapping in a song, quote, "beat that expletive up like Emmitt Till." Now Till was a Chicago teenager killed by racists in 1955. A rep for the rapper told CNN, "I can confirm that due to creative differences, we mutually decided to part ways. It was amicable."

Lindsay Lohan, she's trying rehab again. A judge ordered her to go. She checked in Friday. No one's saying where. But her father says she'll stay for a few days, then transfer to another rehab center. Lohan is attending a 90-day drug and alcohol program as an alternative to jail for violating her probation.

The dash cam video of Reese Witherspoon's arrest has been released. She was the star of those "Legally Blonde" movies. But apparently didn't learn much. She was charged with disorderly conduct when her husband was pulled over for drunk driving in Atlanta. And this one you have got to see to believe.


TROOPER: Ma'am, what did I just tell you to do?

REESE WITHERSPOON: I'd like to know what's going on.

TROOPER: He's under arrest. If you don't get back in the car -

WITHERSPOON: I am a U.S. citizen. I am allowed to stand on American ground --

TROOPER: Actually, you're not allowed to do anything -

WITHERSPOON: -- and ask any question I want to ask.

TROOPER: Go ahead. Come on.

WITHERSPOON: You better not arrest me.

TROOPER: Yes, ma'am.

WITHERSPOON: Are you kidding me?

TROOPER: Nope. I told you.

WITHERSPOON: I'm an American citizen.

TROOPER: I told you to get in that car and stay in there, didn't I?

WITHERSPOON: This is beyond.

TROOPER: I told you. WITHERSPOON: This is beyond.

TROOPER: You fight with me. I promise you (INAUDIBLE).

WITHERSPOON: This is harassment. You're harassing me. As an American citizen, I have done nothing against the law.

JIM TOTH: Reese, can you please (INAUDIBLE)?

TROOPER: Yes, you have. You didn't obey my -

WITHERSPOON: I have to obey your orders?

TROOPER: Yes, you do.

WITHERSPOON: No, sir, I do not.

TOTH: Reese.

WITHERSPOON: Absolutely nothing.

TOTH: Reese, Reese.

WITHERSPOON: I'm now being arrested and handcuffed?


WITHERSPOON: Do you know my name, sir?

TROOPER: Don't' need to know it.

WITHERSPOON: You don't need to know my name?

TROOPER: Not quite yet. I (INAUDIBLE) -

WITHERSPOON: Oh, really. OK. You're about to find out who I am.

TROOPER: That's fine. I'm not real worried about you, ma'am. I done told you how things worked. You want to get out and get up in my investigation, that's OK.

WITHERSPOON: Yes, sir, I do.

TROOPER: Well, guess what. We have a law for that. It's called obstruction.

WITHERSPOON: I'm obstructing your justice?




WITHERSPOON: I'm being anti-American?

TROOPER: Yes. Go ahead and sit down.


TROOPER: Sit on your butt first, it'll be a lot easier on you.

WITHERSPOON: Interesting.

TROOPER: I tried.

TOTH: I'm sorry.

TROOPER: I absolutely 100 percent tried.

TOTH: I had nothing to do with that.


BLACKWELL: Witherspoon now has to pay a $213 fine. Her husband, who says "I had nothing to do with that," he'll serve 40 hours of community service.

Authorities find evidence of explosives in the home of one of the Boston bombing suspects he shared with his wife and their child. We're live next with a former FBI assistant director about the investigation into this woman, Katherine Russell.


KAYE: It is about half past the hour now. Welcome back, everyone. I am Randi Kaye coming to you this morning from Boston. Thanks for starting your day with us. Let's check in with my colleague, Victor Blackwell, at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. Victor, what are you watching this morning?

BLACKWELL: A couple of big stories, Randi. We are going to start on the West Coast, northwest of Los Angeles, in fact, a raging wildfire there. You and Alexandra (ph), you talked about them this morning. It's nearly tripled in size. It is threatening thousands of homes now in the Ventura County area. The Springs fire as it's known has already burned 43 square miles, has damaged or destroyed at least 30 homes and a few other buildings. There is a mandatory evacuation for some areas.

Here is some good news. Firefighters could get a break tomorrow because rain is in the forecast.

U.S. federal officials believe Israel has carried out an air strike in Syria. Two U.S. officials tell CNN that the strike probably happened Thursday or Friday. Washington does not think Israeli warplanes entered Syrian airspace, but Israel has long promised to strike at any target it suspects being used to transport weapons to Hezbollah or other terrorist groups.

An American journalist who's been missing in Syria for almost six months now may be in the hands of the Syrian government. That's according to the man's brother and the Global Post News outlet. James Foley was kidnapped by gunmen, rather, in November. Now, the Global Post says it's likely Foley is being held in Damascus with other Western journalist, including at least one other American.

The FBI is now looking into the mysterious death of this woman. A doctor in Pittsburgh. Local authorities think that Autumn Klein, that's her name, she died from cyanide poisoning. Her husband called 911 after he found the body at their home on April 20. Now, the Allegheny County district attorney's office says her death is being investigated as a potential homicide or possibly suicide.

Almost three weeks after the Boston bombings, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is warning against racial profiling. She is talking about this as customs agents get new orders that require them to verify that all foreign students have a valid visa. She spoke in Denver. Listen.


SONIA SOTOMAYOR, ASSOCIATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: If you are thinking, if you are a police officer or anyone else thinking that only profiling is going to prove who did something, you are probably going to be wrong most of the time. Because that's not the way the world works.

Are there sort of indicators of sorts that have to be listened to? Absolutely. You know, they are talking about if you have been following the news about the Boston bombing and about criticisms, whether they are justified or not, about following up on the activities of the two young men who were involved. Is that profiling? Could be. Is it something that you just can't ignore? Maybe sometimes not. There's a fine line that society walks in trying to be fair.


BLACKWELL: We'll talk about some of the other big stories of the weekend in a moment, but for now let's head back to Randi, live in Boston this morning. Randi.

KAYE: Victor, thank you.

Investigators in Boston find residue from explosives inside the apartment that slain bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev shared with his wife and young daughter. The substances were discovered at the kitchen table, the kitchen sink and also in the bathtub. Tamerlan's brother Dzhokhar has told the investigators the pair built the bombs at Tamerlan's home.

Meanwhile, Tamerlan's widow, 24-year-old Katherine Russell, maintains she knew nothing about this entire bomb plot. Joining me now is former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes. Tom, good morning to you. So, listening to that, how does the discovery of explosives residue in her own home change the investigation as it relates to Katherine Russell?

TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, Randi, I don't think it changes the investigation, because this has been something that they have been looking at from the very beginning, the possibility that she may have known something or she may have been involved, even, in obtaining the materials that were used or somehow allowing them to make the bombs. So that's been something that they have been concerned with and would have looked at from the very start.

Now, actually gathering the evidence that she was aware of it is another matter. Especially even though it's her residence also, it was reported by her attorney early on that she worked seven days a work, 17 hours a day, was rarely home. So it's remotely possible that the two brothers made the bombs and cleaned up most of the mess before she got home, if that's true. So we don't know all the things that the FBI knows at this point, or what they have known from the very beginning in trying to investigate this case.

KAYE: Right. Let's talk about Dzhokhar, the younger brother. It appears he is sharing quite a bit of information with the authorities. How much do you think his cooperation will help when this case gets to court? Will it help him?

FUENTES: Probably will not hurt him. So how much it helps will have to be determined. But yes, he talked extensively, about 16 hours to the FBI before the initial appearance hearing, where he received his Miranda rights. From what I have heard, the FBI was pretty satisfied that he had said about as much as he was going to say at that time.

Not it's not that they believed every word he said. They took everything with a large degree of skepticism. That's what the investigation has been about since, determining how much of what he said was true, how much could they determine and corroborate the statements that he made.

KAYE: We all have so many questions, I'm sure you have questions of your own, but what pieces do you think of this story do investigators really still need Dzhokhar to flesh out and answer for them?

FUENTES: I think they will need him to basically say how much Tamerlan's wife, the widow Russell, knew. If he says or did say from the beginning that she was there or she went out and purchased some of the equipment that was used to make the bombs, such as the pressure cookers, if that was the case, then that's what they are trying to focus on, much of that aspect of what he said.

Also, all the initial statements, that they did it by themselves, that maybe big brother -- we don't know yet if Tamerlan learned any of the bomb-making skills when he went back to Dagestan for six months. But if in fact the brother knows more about that or made statements about that, that would be something that they would be very interested in. And also, you know, right now, the other three that have been charged with disposing of the evidence and helping him hide evidence after the bombing, how much involved if any were they before the bombing. Is that verifiable to a great extent, that they had no knowledge prior to that, maybe going to the river and exploding fireworks and having some idea, but not ever realizing that Dzhokhar and his brother were actually going to make a bomb and do an attack.

KAYE: Yes, those are all good questions, a lot of blanks to fill in, no doubt.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is warning, as you probably heard before we brought you in, about the possible racial profiling of foreign students in the wake of the bombing. How can border agents crack down on student visas and still stay within the bounds of the law?

FUENTES: Well, the law says if someone does not have a visa, they cannot come into the country. So if they have the ability to quickly determine which student visa is valid and which one is not, then that's not profiling, it's a fact, either you have it or you don't, or you have an accurate, valid passport or you don't. So that would apply to any student.

There are a lot more students from other countries than Kazakhstan or the countries involved in this case. We are talking about students from a country that has not had any terrorists group that we are aware of, I'm talking about Kazakhstan now, that has been involved in this kind of activity, much less help in an attack on the United States. And there is no information that the two Kazakh students did. All we know is that they were friends of Dzhokhar, at least at this time, and felt whatever allegiance to him after the bombing to get rid of the backpack and take his laptop and hide it.

KAYE: Tom Fuentes, as always, we appreciate your expertise. Thank you.

FUENTES: Thank you, Randi.

KAYE: Seven acres of guns, gear, and controversy. The NRA's annual meeting is off and running. But joining tens of thousands of gun lovers are supporters of tougher gun laws, who plan to challenge the NRA this weekend. We will talk to one of them, next.


BLACKWELL: This weekend, the NRA is hosting its 147th annual meeting. It's in downtown Houston. It's their first since the Aurora theater shooting, since the Sikh temple shooting, since the shooting in Newtown. And the first since President Obama's push for tougher gun laws. Now, more than 70,000 people are expected to attend gun shows and seminars and rallies, and this year's theme is stand and fight. Some well known speakers are scheduled. Sarah Palin, NRA executive Wayne LaPierre. Texas Governor Rick Perry, radio personality Glenn Beck and rocker Ted Nugent.

Yesterday, Chris Cox from the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, kicked things off by criticizing the Obama administration for using victims of gun violence against them. Listen.


CHRIS COX, NRA'S INST. FOR LEGISLATIVE ACTION: Where we see tragedy, Barack Obama and Michael Bloomberg, they see opportunity. While we pray for God to comfort those suffering unimaginable pain, they rush to microphones and cameras, gather in war rooms on Capitol Hill, and scheme about how to use that suffering to push their political agenda. They follow Rahm Emanuel's blueprint: Never let a crisis go to waste.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: 70,000 NRA members and supporters, but there will also be supporters of tougher gun laws that plan to challenge the NRA and talk about how their lives have been touched by mass shootings.

Patricia Maisch joins me live now from Houston. She is actually from Tucson. Patricia took the gun magazine from the hands of Jared Loughner. He shot Gabby Giffords, killed six others in 2011. Patricia, thank you for joining us this morning.


BLACKWELL: What do you make of those remarks yesterday, that the supporters of tougher gun laws see opportunities, what Chris Cox said, and Sarah Palin blasted the president for practicing the politics of emotion, this exploitation of people like you? What do you think about that?

MAISCH: How insulting. It's just unbelievable that they should say that. Nobody is manufacturing reasons to use these horrible tragedies in political ways. They are in need of being changed. These laws are needed to be changed. Obviously, none of them have felt the pain or watched six people died on a sidewalk to say that we're using them as props. It's very insulting and disingenuous.

BLACKWELL: But wouldn't you admit or endorse what seems like a new strategy to bring the people who have been affected by gun violence, Gabby Giffords, to the Rose Garden, to take the daughter of the principal at Sandy Hook to a town hall meeting in Senator Kelly Ayotte's state of New Hampshire. Would you admit that this is a new, up-close and personal strategy?

MAISCH: You know, I don't know the political -- all the political aspects of doing that. People tell me I am being used, and I say that is a form of the word use and useful. And if I can be useful in changing the laws and making the public safer, then by God, use me.

BLACKWELL: So you are in Houston where this NRA annual meeting is happening this weekend. What is the goal for you?

MAISCH: You know, I have been to the NRA meeting in 2011 in Pittsburgh, and I went to the last year in St. Louis, and my mantra then was, we don't want your guns, we want your help, both years. But this year, we obviously know that that is beyond their moral fortitude, to be helpful in this cause.

In my opinion -- not in my opinion, there is survey after survey that 74 percent of the NRA rank-and-file membership believe stronger background checks is important, and that it can be done and preserve Second Amendment rights.

I believe that the leadership of the NRA, the gun manufacturers, and the gun lobby are saturated in the blood of these innocent people, and that some of our legislators have blood on their hands. And they hope that we will go away. It's not going to happen this time. There is a grassroots movement, and this is not going to go away. The NRA is not going to win this battle. BLACKWELL: You brought up background checks. And Patricia, you have heard the rebuttal. Gerald Loughner, the Tucson shooter, passed a background check. James Holmes, the accused Aurora shooter, passed a background check. Wade Michael Page, the Oak Creek shooter, passed a background check. Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, stole the guns from his mother. What do you say to people who believe background checks didn't stop those shootings, they won't stop the next one?

MAISCH: Maybe. Jared Loughner, if he had been on the list of do not sell list by the military or if he had been forcibly institutionalized, he might not have been able to. The whole system failed us that day in Tucson.

I don't know all the individual details of the other ones, and we're not so Pollyannas that we think it will save every life, but you know, the mass shootings are not really the largest number of deaths and collateral damage by gunshots. We just garner the most attention. And so a lot of the individual shootings would certainly have been helped by background checks.

And we can't judge a negative. We don't know how many people were caught by background checks. So I think that we have tried it one way. We gave up that background check on unlicensed dealers when that law was first put into place to get it to pass, not realizing how many guns would have been purchased without going through a licensed dealer. It's time to make that loophole closed, and to see how much we can do to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

BLACKWELL: All right, Patricia Maisch in Houston this weekend, as the NRA meets for the 142nd time. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

MAISCH: Thank you for having me.

BLACKWELL: And we'll be back.


KAYE: Welcome back. The death of Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman has some fans speculating about what may have really killed him. The band said that Hanneman died of liver failure, but an earlier statement noted that he had been in bad shape since getting a spider bite last year. A medical professional contacted by CNN said spider bites do not typically result in organ failure, but added that bad outcomes can happen.

A man on his way to a sobriety class for drunk drivers crashed his car into a North Dakota County jail. He went in right through the front doors. Police say they don't know if he meant to do it or if it was an accident. They are trying to determine if alcohol was involved. No one inside the building was injured.

All right. Listen to this one. Police say a North Carolina man on vacation realized he did not have enough money for a Disney cruise. So what did he do? He robbed an Orlando credit union. He even had his girlfriend and her two kids waiting outside in a car. Bank employees called the cops, who found the man less than 10 minutes later. Police say the girlfriend had no idea what was going on. The man is facing robbery charges.

Take a look. You are seeing here some live pictures of the track at Churchill Downs, getting ready for the Kentucky Derby, where one jockey is not just trying to win the Kentucky Derby today, she is also trying to make history. Hear why Rosie Napravnik says being a woman is actually working to her advantage.


BLACKWELL: Now, that -- that is beautiful. Louisville, Kentucky. At Churchill Downs. The ponies are on the track I guess warming up. Do horses warm up? I guess they do. First race of the Triple Crown today. It is derby day. There is one. The Kentucky Derby. Pour yourself a mint julep or two. Grab a hat, place your bets. This year, too many people are thinking unfortunately of what happened in Boston, but they're also thinking about what's happening there on the track. A jockey there could make history. Joe Carter is live at Churchill Downs. Joe, a woman has a chance to make history today, right?

JOE CARTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you are absolutely right, Victor. And she has got a really good chance. Her name is Rosie Napravnik, and she will be riding the horse Mylute. Now, why they say she has a good chance is because of what she has been able to accomplish in the last two years. She did run in this race back in 2011, Rosie Napravnik, riding a different horse. She finished ninth, which is the best finish for a female jockey ever, but what she's been able to accomplish since then has been absolutely incredible. Last year alone, she won numerous races with several different horses, collecting over $12 million in purses. And that's why oddsmakers today are looking at this horse as definitely a title contender.


ROSIE NAPRAVNIK, JOCKEY: To be honest with you, the female aspect to me has I think worked to my advantage in a lot of respects, just with publicity and, you know, with being recognized for things that I have accomplished that may not have been such a big deal if it was just another male jockey. If you are winning races, it's really irrelevant what gender you are.


CARTER: All right. So, again, her horse's name is Mylute. And that's Rosie Napravnik. If she wins today, she will be the first female jockey to ever win the Kentucky Derby. And of course they've been running this race for almost 140 years.

Another big storyline is Rick Pitino. Head men's basketball coach for the Louisville Cardinals. Of course, he won the national championship just a short time ago, also named to the Basketball Hall of Fame. He is co-owner of a horse in today's race. Goldenscents is his horse, and the trainer of that horse, Doug O'Neal (ph). And people might remember that name, because Doug O'Neal's horse, Illhaveanother, won last year's derby. So Goldenscents, a horse a lot of folks are talking about. A couple of favorites for you there. Victor, Orb, as in Orbital, is a horse favored. Verrizano (ph) is another favorite. Now, my favorite name in today's race is Charmingkitten, for those that like the felines, and a long shot to cheer for -- Gary Stephens (ph) is a jockey who's 50 years old. He'll be racing on a horse Oxbow. So weather should be kind of a problem today, Victor, but this sport, unlike a lot of other sports, will run in the rain, so no matter what, we hope to see the Kentucky Derby go off today and run 6:24 Eastern time, Victor.

BLACKWELL: And it's anybody's race if it's raining. My grandfather thought us that. That if it's a sloppy track, bet on the long shot.

All right. Joe Carter, thanks so much.

CARTER: You got it.

BLACKWELL: That's going to do it for us this hour. I'm Victor Blackwell live in Atlanta. I'll send it back to Boston. Randi Kaye is there live, and "CNN SATURDAY MORNING" starts now.