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Five Suspicious Packages Discovered in Boston; Florida Sheriff's Wife Killed
Aired January 31, 2007 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for staying with us. It's the top of the hour. I'm Kyra Phillips, live at that CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Don Lemon.
It is a very busy day for the Boston bomb squad. Hours after they blow up one suspicious package, at least four more turn up. What's going on?
PHILLIPS: A travel nightmare could be brewing, as an ice storm approaches. We are going to have the latest from the Severe Weather Center.
LEMON: And a Florida murder mystery -- who shot the sheriff's wife in Marianna? Investigators say it wasn't a random attack. We're on it right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Top of the hour -- a developing story happening in Boston.
Fredricka Whitfield, she has got the details for us -- Fred.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, a few different things taking place now.
While, today, five suspicious packages have been located in and around transit routes throughout the Boston area earlier this morning, one was disabled, and, just within the past hour, another was disabled at the Boston University Bridge.
We're learning from Reuters now that the U.S. Coast Guard is closing the Charles River. It's unclear whether that measure is being taken in relation to these other suspicious packages that have been located around the Boston area. We're still trying to sort that out. But, according to Reuters, the Charles River is being closed, according to sources at the Coast Guard.
Now, meantime, back to the suspicious packages -- while one of those devices, or packages, was disabled within the past hour at Boston University Bridge, apparently, now authorities are looking at other suspicious packages at the Longfellow Bridge, also a location near the intersection of Stuart and Columbus Streets.
And, then, a suspicious package, or a device, was located in the basement of the New England Medical Center. Now, I say package or device because, earlier this morning, when what was reported to be a suspicious package was disabled, authorities say that they did notice that a -- an electric circuit board was located in that device, and had other components that are consistent with improvised explosive devices.
However, they underscore that no explosives were found in that package, nor were explosives found in the package that was disabled within the past hour.
All of these developments are pretty free-flowing here.
WHITFIELD: Authorities are giving us as much information as they're willing to give us at this point, because, again, the investigation is still in the early stages, given that a few other suspicious devices are still out there, and have not been further investigated before being disabled.
LEMON: And I think you just sort of touched on what I was going to ask you next. Do we know, exactly, did someone call these in? Did someone stumble upon them? Did police find them? Do we know?
WHITFIELD: Well, actually, authorities are crediting some very astute passersby who first saw the device earlier this morning near an overpass, called it in -- or the package -- called it in, and that led authorities to that particular device.
And then how the discovery was made of these other four devices or packages is still unclear right now.
And, you know, Fred, we're going to stay with this, because this is breaking now. But we want to make sure we get this right. There's -- there have been no devices that have been explosive.
They were concerned that they may have been explosive in nature, but what they did was disable them.
LEMON: In no way have those devices blown up.
LEMON: The first one, as you said, the one that was found under the bridge -- I'm not sure -- is it the -- yes, under the -- what appears to be an expressway there. That one was disabled this morning, because it had some sort of material that appeared...
WHITFIELD: The electric panel.
LEMON: Electric panel on it.
LEMON: And then the other ones...
WHITFIELD: And you're looking at the videotape right now from earlier today.
LEMON: Yes, that's the videotape...
And, then, the other ones, same thing as well, how many of them have they disabled?
WHITFIELD: Right now, two out of the five in total -- that includes the one earlier this morning in the 10:00 a.m. Eastern hour.
LEMON: Yes. And it's 3:00 there, 3:00 Eastern time, in Boston. And rush hour is going to get under way very soon. And, as you said, four -- correct me if I'm wrong -- have been found on or near roadways, and then the other one was found at the New England Medical Center, which is a very busy area in Boston.
LEMON: So, it's going to be -- and then they closed, you said, the Charles? Am I correct, the Charles River?
WHITFIELD: The Charles River has been closed.
WHITFIELD: The U.S. Coast Guard has taken those measures, according to Reuters.
I would imagine that security agencies there are scrambling to try to get this done and trying to find at least some connection between all of these devices, if there is a connection. It's not often that you find a suspicious package -- or a number of them laying anywhere on the same day, Fredricka.
LEMON: You often hear about it. You know, all of us have worked in newsrooms, and you hear the radios going. And you hear suspicious package here and there.
LEMON: But nothing rises to this occasion.
WHITFIELD: Right, Don.
And they're going to look closely at these devices to see what the common denominators are, if they all seem to be -- have the same fingerprints, if you will, of how they were put together or how they were packaged, how they were left. These are the sort of things that they're going to be looking into, as they try to investigate not only who may be responsible, or what group might be responsible, but whether there is a real common link between these four, and possibly whether there would be any kind of indicators that there might be others that they need to be on the lookout for.
LEMON: Yes. And, then, certainly, this is extremely concerning, because Boston, of course, a major, major city on the Eastern Seaboard, and a huge part of our history, and definitely a city that would garner this much attention.
And, even in a smaller city, five devices would -- would garner this attention.
You're looking at two live pictures. These are both live, right, guys? Two live pictures coming from Boston, our affiliate WDH and WCVB on the left, yes.
WHITFIELD: Yes, CVB and HD -- HDH.
Just sort of unbelievable. We hope, Fredricka, again, that these are nothing. But, if they do turn out -- and we're not sure -- if they do turn out to be a prank, certainly, not a good one to play, is it?
WHITFIELD: No. And they're taking it very seriously, understandably why. And as they have been investigating this, certainly it has disrupted traffic.
And everyone who's been to Boston or lives in Boston knows that traffic is quite significant there, even on off-peak hours. So, it doesn't take much to cause major gridlock.
WHITFIELD: And it has done that...
WHITFIELD: ... throughout the day, as they investigated the earlier suspicious device or package.
LEMON: And that was the reason, really, for the Big Dig, was to try to get -- to try to level off some of the traffic in Boston. And that caused problems of its own.
And, again, in about an hour-and-a-half from now, when rush hour really heats up there in the Boston area, this is going to be major, major, major problems that folks are going to face going home.
So, if you're watching or listening to us from your office, then you're probably going to have to take precautions. Or, if you're watching at home, the person you're waiting for is going to be late if they're stuck at -- at work, and they haven't figured this out by 4:30, 5:00 -- Fredricka.
So -- so, again, just to recap for those who may be just tuning in who want to know exactly where these devices are being investigated, just within the past hour, the package that was suspicious was disabled at the Boston University Bridge.
The Longfellow Bridge is another location where there is a suspicious package. The intersection of Stuart and Columbus Streets, as well as the basement of the New England Medical Center, is where another suspicious package was located.
We don't know whether they have disabled those last three that I just mentioned. But efforts are under way to secure the area, so that they're able to do so.
LEMON: All right, Fredricka Whitfield, in this post-9/11 era, we're going to stay on top of this and bring you all the latest developments.
Fredricka, thanks -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: The Deep South or the deep freeze?
Rob Marciano tracking all the winter watches from the Weather Center.
What do you think, Rob?
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Kyra, they just -- they as in the National Weather Service -- just upgraded that winter storm watch we spoke about, about 20 minutes ago now to a warning.
Highlighted on the map here in red, these are the counties, mostly north of I-20, up I-75 a little bit, and very much so up I-85. Spartanburg to Greenville, South Carolina, up through Charlotte, that's where we expect to see accumulating ice begin to take shape, probably right around daybreak, if not slightly before daybreak.
The moisture will come from west to east and potentially across northern parts of Alabama, as well. There's a very cold air mass in place here.
And there's a system that's cruising across the Plains. And, right now, that's bringing some snow across Oklahoma City, up through Tulsa, and through Kansas city, and just to the north of Dallas. Dallas, right now, has temperatures in the mid-30s, with a little bit of light precip there. So, that's kind of measurable. And this begins to taper off the farther north you go away from that moisture source, which is the Gulf of Mexico. And that will really pick up quite a bit of liquid as we head through the overnight hours.
Current temperatures, obviously, are cold, a lot of blue on the map, chilly in Chicago, 17. You might get a dusting out of this system that is heading is your way. But all eyes really are on the Southeast, because this very cool, cold layer of shallow air has really settled in, especially right in this area.
Temperatures will top out right around 40 degrees, not a whole lot of cloud cover coming in quickly tonight. So, temperatures will quickly fall to at or below freezing tomorrow. And then as that moisture begins to fall on that dry air, the temperatures fall even further.
So, here's your dry air with high pressure and really nice day today across the East Coast. But here's our developing area of low pressure. A saving grace with this system may very well be that the computer models are really beginning to accelerate or -- or strengthen it fairly rapidly tomorrow.
So, once we start out at or below freezing, the stronger that system is, the stronger the south winds will be, and will help scour out the cold air. So, we're hoping that this icing event will be short-lived and really belong only to the morning hours. But we're just going to having to wait and see. Sometimes, that cold air really gets jammed up against the Appalachians and you're stuck in it all day long.
But here's our forecast for the map for tomorrow, anybody who lives in Little Rock, through Memphis, Nashville, back through Atlanta. Knoxville might get it, but I think it will be more so in the Smoky Mountains. And the mountains may get a couple, three inches of snow with this system as well.
And then up the I-85 Corridor is where we expect the mess to be. Quite a lot of white painted on the map as well, Kyra, across the northern tier, but this isn't significant snow, maybe an inch or two in spots. The main focal point, at least tomorrow morning, traveling wise, driving is going to be a headache. And, as we mentioned 20 minutes ago, Atlanta and ASA out of -- out of -- Delta and ASA out of Atlanta-Hartsfield have already canceled over 100 flights.
So, traveling through Atlanta, even if you're starting out in New York via air, it's going to be a pain as well.
We will keep you posted as things begin to change -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Thanks, Rob.
LEMON: All right. We have been bringing you some breaking news -- several suspicious devices found in and around the Boston area.
Joining us on the phone now, Dan Lothian, our correspondent in the area.
Dan, what do you have for us?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, you know, we're still trying to get a sense of what's going on here in Boston.
We do know that there are several of these suspicious devices. I have confirmed that there was at least one device that the Boston University Bridge. It goes across the Charles River, from Cambridge over to the Boston side. That particular package was found to be not an explosive.
And, then, there was at least one other device that was found in an ambulance bay at the New England Medical Center. Now, if you recall, this follows earlier this morning when the northbound lanes of I-93, just north of downtown Boston, were shut down, after a device that was described as having wires and tubes was found attached to one of the supporting spans on a bridge on I-93.
Bomb squads were called in. They did explode the device. We were told that it was not an explosive device. But, of course, now we find these other devices. So, it is quite suspicious -- law enforcement obviously responding to all of these calls.
LEMON: All right.
Have you had any chance, Dan, to get in traffic or see at all? We see here it's flowing freely in the areas we're looking. Is it starting to build there?
LOTHIAN: I'm like right over -- Storrow Drive is one of the main drags right along the Charles River. I am sort of on another road right next to that -- no traffic where I am located.
LOTHIAN: But, earlier, there were some backups, because there's been a lot of the law enforcement activity. So, traffic really has been messed up in certain spots around the areas where these suspicious devices have been found.
LEMON: All right. Dan Lothian, joining us by telephone, thank you so much for that.
PHILLIPS: All right, developments now on that deadly shoot-out at the home of a Florida sheriff. When the gunfire ended, the sheriff's wife was dead, and so was the first deputy on the scene.
It looks as if gunmen targeted the home, but it's not clear why. It happened in the Panhandle town of Marianna.
CNN's Susan Roesgen is there with an update, working that investigation.
What have you found out, Susie? SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, we found out that this is really the big story here in town. It is a small town. Local law enforcement here is a very tight-knit community.
For instance, Mellie McDaniel, the wife of the sheriff, who was killed, she worked in the sheriff's office as a volunteer counselor, counseling crime victims. And the sheriff's daughter is married to the sheriff of the neighboring county -- so, a lot of people here talking about what happened last night.
We don't yet know all the details. We're waiting for a news conference later this afternoon. But I can lay out the timeline again for you, Kyra. This is what law enforcement sources have confirmed with me happened, as -- as they know it, as they're ready to reveal it.
Yesterday, at about 5:15, Mellie McDaniel, the wife of Sheriff John McDaniel, here in Jackson County was driving home when she noticed some kind of suspicious vehicle following her. She got on her cell phone. She called her husband, the sheriff, told him about it. He dispatched a deputy to meet her at the house.
We don't know how soon the deputy got there, but, apparently, Mrs. McDaniel drove down her long driveway, and the suspicious car followed her. Two men got out and shot her to death. And, then, later, the deputy who responded to the scene was also shot to death. Then, more deputies were sent. The sheriff himself went to his home. There was a gunfight with the twos men who got out of the suspicious vehicle. The two men were shot to death.
And then there was a massive search, more than 100 officers combing the area, looking for potentially more suspects. As it turns out now, law enforcement tells me that they don't believe that there are any more suspects.
And, if you are one of those people who has been watching too many crime dramas on television, they also tell me that, no, the sheriff himself is not a suspect in this, that apparently the two gunmen who were killed were in on this alone, that they had their own reasons for targeting the sheriff's home or the sheriff's wife or possibly the sheriff himself.
Now, again, there's going to be a news conference, Kyra, later this afternoon. We hope then to find out what the motive will be. I have been told that the state attorney general in this area plans to reveal all the details, that the investigation will be, in their words, pretty much wrapped up at that news conference.
But one more odd twist to this whole thing -- Don mentioned it as you went to the commercial break earlier -- this is actually the second tragedy for Sheriff John McDaniel. Back in 1980, when he was just a deputy, he responded to a call of an armed robbery. It turns out the victim was his own father, shot to death by the infamous serial killer Henry Lee Lucas -- so, now two tragedies here for this same sheriff in Jackson County, Florida. PHILLIPS: All right. We will wait for that news conference. Susan Roesgen, thank you so much.
Meanwhile, we want to think you back to that story that continues to develop out of Boston, Mass. And that is several suspicious devices that have been found in various parts of the city.
Mike Brooks on the phone with us now, our law enforcement analyst, he's actually been a member of a bomb squad, in addition to FBI counterterrorism.
Mike, have you been able to work your sources? Have you found anything out about what this could be about?
MIKE BROOKS, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Kyra, right now, the sources are saying there's a total of five devices, one that was found earlier today, and four others that they're dealing with now.
Now, they -- a second one has been, as we call it, rendered safe. Now, a lot of people say blowing it up. But the correct term is called render safe.
They said, on the initial inspection, it did look like a possible device. They have X-rayed some of these, but, apparently, none of the devices, again, none of these devices, or hoax devices, as they're calling them, contained any explosive material. There were some wires, tubes, circuit boards, but none of them contained any explosive material.
PHILLIPS: So, tell me, how do you know the difference between a hoax device and the real deal? Because, if this didn't have any explosive material, it sounds like a hoax.
BROOKS: It does.
But what you do is, you go up and you can do a visual inspection either by yourself. But the bomb tech will go up, take a look at it, or send a roadblock downrange to take a look at this.
And, then, also, if they can, they will try to X-ray it, to see whether or not there's a power source initiator explosive device. But many times, Kyra, you're not going to be able to tell just on the inspection and sometimes with an X-ray whether or not there is any explosive material in that. And that's why, out of an abundance of caution, they went ahead and rendered these -- these particular devices that they have dealt with so far safe. But they're still dealing with a couple right now.
PHILLIPS: All right.
So, the ones that they're dealing with, we re being told that the one at Boston -- under the Boston University Bridge, has been rendered safe. And then they're looking at the Longfellow Bridge, the Stuart and Columbus Streets, and also the New England Medical Center.
Those were the areas. And it looks like a spokesperson has said that -- or I guess a spokesperson for the hospital says that a package was found in the building of the Medical Center, but it was determined not to be an explosive device.
So, some of these calls that might be coming in and some of these packages that some people might be finding may have nothing to do with each other, right?
BROOKS: That's a possibility. But the five that they have found, my sources are telling me that they do believe that all of them are connected. They are all very similar in makeup.
They're not really giving away too much information right now on exactly what the makeup of these devices are. But none of them have contained any explosive material. But they do believe, Kyra, that they are linked.
PHILLIPS: But they had -- so, all of them had electronic circuit boards and some components that could be consistent with an IED?
BROOKS: Some. Some. Some, yes. They aren't telling exactly what's in it. They told me wires. They said tubes and circuit boards.
But they're not saying too much more on the exact makeup of this, because you're always concerned about copycats. But there's also -- they say, OK, now, what is the reason? What is the motive behind this? They don't know right now.
It's one of these things you always have to think about, Kyra. You know, is somebody possibly testing the system? Is this somebody trying to play a sick joke on authorities? But, right now, they still -- they don't know the a motive as of right now why these are being placed.
PHILLIPS: All right, Mike Brooks, our law enforcement analyst, stay with us.
You're looking at live pictures via one of our affiliates, WHDH, out of Boston, Mass. You can see authorities in the air and on the ground, as Boston police are continuing to investigate five suspicious devices that were spotted around the city. So far, one has been rendered safe. The others are still being investigated -- Don.
And, Kyra, we're going to continue with this, a man who probably knows what's happening now, the inner workings of the Boston FBI, former FBI investigator from Boston, Bill Daly.
Bill, tell us what law enforcement might be doing right now.
BILL DALY, FORMER FBI INVESTIGATOR: Well, right now, they're really going to take things as being a matter of precaution, is that whether or not they have found devices that appear not to be -- contain explosive materials, they don't want to assume that all of them don't. So, they are going to be taking some precautions approaching any of these devices as if they are real and live.
You know, one thing we need to keep in mind here is that, in this world, unfortunately, there may be some people looking to carry out hoaxes. But, for law enforcement, it's important that they both gather the evidence at the scene to make sure that they can find out who's responsible, as well as protect the public safety.
And, so, therefore, you will see the closing of some of these arteries and containing the area to keep people away from what could be a dangerous situation.
LEMON: Mr. Daly, have you been able to speak to any of your sources? And, if so, what are they telling you?
DALY: Nothing now.
And, at this point, they're -- they're very busy approaching this from a joint task force perspective. So, I certainly wouldn't want to burden them with trying to make some inquiries.
But I would tell you that they're mobilizing both federal and local resources, and using, I'm sure, the joint terrorism task force as being the driving spear behind this just to find out what's behind the -- these packages showing up all of a sudden throughout Boston.
However, the local responsibility for dealing with these sites and dealing with the items themselves will fall under the Boston Police Department...
DALY: ... which is -- will be taking it into their own hands to be able to cordon off the area and keep the public safe.
LEMON: All right, Mr. Daly, we're going to stop you right there.
Stay with us, because we want you to listen. We're going to listen to Boston WHDH coverage of this locally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Ryan, thank you.
And I want to get back to Vicki (ph).
Now, Vicki, just as we saw that video from Ryan Schulteis down at the Boston Common, we were talking a second ago, saying that it wouldn't be such a surprise if other devices were found or perhaps they're getting other calls. That wouldn't surprise you?
And, again, as we look at the scene, right now, what you're looking at here is the Longfellow Bridge. This is the area near Storrow Drive, near Charles Circle, if you're familiar with that area. That's also the area of community boating.
And what you can see is, they have that brown bag there. And you can see investigators. They're taking a closer look at some of the evidence there at the scene after this detonation that went on. And it's eerily similar to what we saw unfold a few hours ago, the scene over at Sullivan Station at the T-stop over there near Interstate 93, where they detonated a device over there, as well.
So, you can see that huge police presence, and, as we heard from Grant Greenberg, who was down at the Longfellow Bridge. We have also heard from Ryan Schulteis.
LEMON: All right. You're listening to a Boston affiliate there, WCVB. That's their local coverage. I imagine this is huge news, obviously, in Boston.
Bill Daly, I want to get back to you, former FBI investigator from Boston.
Talk to us about, post-9/11, after 9/11, the precautions and things that were put in place in Boston to handle situations like this. And I imagine that's what we're seeing in action now.
DALY: Well, you know, all the major cities, including Boston, have put together plans, and have tested out those plans, to respond to situations such as this, where there may be multiple devices left, whether be found or unfound to be actual explosive devices themselves...
DALY: ... and to be able to deal with the public safety issues that may be surrounding it, as well as if they are found out to contain explosive materials, or if one was to go off, they have also tested and planned to be able to respond and to bring aid to those who might be injured.
LEMON: All right, Bill, we're going to and we're going to thank you so much for joining us. And we're going to keep you around just so we can get some information from you.
But we want to get to one of our correspondents, who also has information.
Thanks, Bill Daly.
PHILLIPS: Jeanne Meserve, our homeland security correspondent, working her sources.
Jeanne, are you finding out new information right now?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra.
Yes, we have just heard from a federal security official, who requested anonymity, because this investigation is an ongoing one, that the packages found this afternoon appear to be the same type as one discovered this morning near the Sullivan Square T-station. That's MBTA.
The package found this morning, as you know, was determined not to be an IED, but it did contain a circuit board. And, according to this federal security official, the circuit board lights -- lit up like a smiley face and a middle finger, this, again, according to a federal security official.
A Department of Homeland Security official says that several of these devices now have been cleared, and this per the Boston Police Department. The ones that the Boston Police Department has told the Department of Homeland Security have been cleared are the ones at I- 93, the New England Medical Center, and at Stuart and Columbus.
The term used in talking to me was hoaxes. And if these devices looked as we're told they are by that one federal official, with a smiley face and a middle finger, that would indeed appear to be the case.
The U.S. Coast Guard, in the meantime, out of a -- for security reasons, did go ahead, has gone ahead and closed portions of the Charles River. We're told that the Charles River is shut from the Harbor Locks to the Museum of science, where there's been some ice -- all recreational traffic in that part of the river closed for the time being -- back to you, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right.
So, I know, Jeanne, when you talk with your sources, you get as much information as you can. But, if I could throw something out to you -- I don't know if you were able to get this information -- but how is this affecting the city? Do you know? Is this causing a tremendous lockdown in certain areas, or is it not that much of a concern yet? Are they able to isolate each one of these areas without disrupting city life?
MESERVE: Kyra, I'm sitting in Washington, D.C. I don't have any idea, frankly, how it's affecting various things in Boston.
I knew that -- I know that the MBTA has been shut for a few stretches. But, last time I spoke to them, that was operating normally. Usually, when there's a suspicious device found, there is an area cordoned off. I know there was one found in Washington just about a week ago. And it looked to me like a square-block area had been shut.
Because these where found under bridges, I imagine they have the potential to have been more disruptive, because so much more traffic would flow over these.
But, to be perfectly honest with you, not being on the ground in Boston, I can't tell you.
PHILLIPS: And you're there in Washington, obviously, the home base for Homeland Security. You have got great sources within that department.
So, maybe you can sort of explain to our viewers. When something like this happens, how does the coordination go forward? Do Boston authorities investigate this first, and, then, when they think it might possibly have a tie to terrorism, or they want to at least rule that out, they call the Department of Homeland Security? How does the relationship or the connection start to form?
MESERVE: It's very definitely a local response.
Almost every time there's an incident of this kind, the first definitive word we get is from the local authorities. The Department of Homeland Security has a system through which local departments can report incidents. And they do.
It then looks at other things on the map to figure out if there are dots that they have collected that can be connected to try and figure out what they're dealing with. In this instance, it sounds like it's a local endeavor, almost entirely.
But the U.S. Coast Guard, of course, an asset of the Department of Homeland Security, playing a part here by closing down that portion of the Charles.
PHILLIPS: OK, our Jeanne Meserve there, she's our homeland security correspondent, working her sources out of D.C.
We're continuing to follow the breaking news here out of Boston, Mass. You're actually seeing -- we're taking a bunch of different live pictures. This is coming through one of our affiliates, WHDH.
And, if you're just tuning in, Boston Police are investigating a number of reports and also discoveries of five suspicious devices that were spotted around the city.
I don't know the Boston real well. I am guessing -- and I don't know, Don, if you know, or if any of our producers know -- is this the Boston University Bridge, where they rendered safe one device?
LEMON: Well, this is the one that goes over where there -- there's an underpass.
PHILLIPS: OK. We're not sure.
LEMON: Yes, the one here.
PHILLIPS: OK. Well, we will see if we can get an exact location for you.
But the areas that police are -- are concerned about and have been investigating, Boston University Bridge, there was a device that was found there. That was rendered safe. Then, also, police were called out to Longfellow Bridge, Stuart and Columbus Streets, and also the New England Medical Center, after a number of phone calls came through about roughly the same time this afternoon, warning about these devices.
A spokesperson for the hospital has been quoted as saying that the package that was found in their building, in the medical center, was determined not to be an explosive device.
And that's what we're seeming to find out here, even through Mike Brooks, who is our law enforcement analyst. He is saying that not everything is matching up to be the same, and that, so far, none of these devices have had any type of explosive material.
Now, I did ask him the question, does it look like this could be a hoax, or is this the real deal? Mike Brooks saying that his sources are saying definitely the real deal, not a hoax, that these -- some of these devices did come -- did have electric circuit boards. And some of those components were dangerous enough to give authorities concern that it could be an explosive device that could cause some harm.
But, right now, one of those devices rendered safe -- as you heard from our Jeanne Meserve, we're telling you there on the lower part of your screen, the United States Coast Guard has been called in and has shut down the Charles River.
In a situation like this, if you know how Homeland Security operates, you get a threat like this in a local city, and then everybody responds. Within Homeland Security, you have connections with the FBI. You have got local law enforcement. You have got federal authorities. You have got the -- the Coast Guard. All the different agencies come together, start sharing intelligence, and respond, as needed, to a situation like this.
If you know Boston, Mass, you know it's surrounded by a lot of waterfronts. So, you have got the Coast Guard involved, shutting down certain areas close to these bridges where these devices were found. They have got to take precautions. They have got to take every step to make things safe for those living in Boston, Mass.
LEMON: You know, you were asking Jeanne Meserve about the city.
And I talked to Dan Lothian about that. And he said, you know, rush hour was starting to build, but it wasn't bad. But there -- there was definitely a sense of concern in certain areas of the city today when they found some of these packages.
And so we have Dan Lothian now on the phone to talk about that.
Hey, Dan, give us a sense -- Kyra asked Jeanne Meserve earlier about, give us a sense about how this is affecting folks in the city there.
OK. Apparently we...
LOTHIAN: Well, I was down in the downtown area, and what you hear is a lot of police activity. Everywhere you go, you hear the police sirens and a lot of emergency vehicles rushing about.
And as I mentioned earlier when I talked to you, in the particular areas where some of these suspicious devices were found, you do have that traffic buildup, that backup that has taken place. And you know certain areas being cordoned off or shut down. And so it is creating a traffic jam. There are some sort of surface roads that you can take to get around it, but if you're traveling through any of those particular areas where these investigates are taking place, you will run into some problems. Of course, it was the same thing this morning when the first device was found. Officials, state police, bomb squads responded immediately. Had to shut down a northbound lane of I-93 -- or the northbound lanes of 93. It's a key route in and out of Boston. It was a north side of the city.
They had to shut it down for quite a period of time. So it did cause quite a bit of mess in the early morning commute. That particular device was rendered, they exploded it and it was safe. And they said it was not an explosive device. And now since they have found these additional devices, the question is, are all of these devices that are being found linked?
LEMON: Yes. You know how New York City is, and obviously so after 9/11 where everyone gets a bit jumpy and antsy even with the gas smell we had a couple of weeks ago. We're just wondering if there's any sense that have going on in Boston right now.
LOTHIAN: I haven't had a chance to go out and actually talk to people in the street about whether or not there is this sense, this jumpiness. You know, anytime -- obviously, anytime there is a lot of the emergency personnel rushing about, and you see the police tape, areas are cordoned off, there are streets that are shut down, there is that obvious concern.
I mean, 9/11 is always in everyone's minds. And so when they see something like this, no doubt, people are saying, oh, no, you know, what could this be? Now some of the initial reporting obviously from sources is that these devices are a hoax. So obviously, people will be breathing a little bit easier. But still, behind all that, officials want to find out what is going on.
I mean, if indeed all of these devices are linked, do they have some similarity, you know, who is doing this? Is it someone just trying...
LEMON: And we have some...
LOTHIAN: Go ahead.
LEMON: I hate to cut you off, Dan. But we may have some information on that. Not sure, but we want to get to it. Thanks for joining us.
PHILLIPS: Our affiliate WHDH bringing us live pictures. And also our affiliate WCVB, you can see there on the split screen. But just moments ago, as we were following the one of the reporters for our affiliate WHDH had more information on these actual devices. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PETTY OFFICER LUKE PINNEO, U.S. COAST GUARD: Sure. Go afternoon. Yes, we went ahead and we've closed down the Charles River from the Harbor Lock there to the Museum of Science. And you know, again, our -- the information that we've got now is very limited. It's very unclear as to what was found there.
But as a safety and security measure, we did. We went ahead and closed the waterway to keep that secure and we've got one of our Coast Guard cutters and some plans for some other vessels there just to provide some safety and security platforms in and around that waterway.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Petty Officer Pinneo, we're talking about a couple of things here. We're talking about the area around the Longfellow Bridge, which is the Charles River, obviously. But you're also talking about the Boston Harbor, is that correct?
PINNEO: No, the Boston Harbor has not been closed. The only area of water that has been closed is the Charles River there in that section from the Harbor Lock there to the Museum of Science.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And again, basically in cases like this, just so people understand, it's erring on the side of caution perhaps more than anything, else or how do you approach these sorts of calls in concert with the other investigators that are working in and around these other locations?
PINNEO: Well, certainly, you know, clearly a team effort. And you know, the main thing is that the agencies can work together and cooperate and make sure everybody's on the same page to just to go ahead and respond, and respond fully.
You know, the main thing really to put the message out there is that it always draws a lot of the attention and curiosity. And the main thing is just for folks, if they're not a responder, let the professionals do what they need to do. And curiosity, kind of let that -- let those folks stay back and kind of stay safe, just to keep the area clear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so again, the message is that that section of the Charles River is closed. But the message beyond that is what? That we're just not taking any chances? Anybody that be perhaps wants to be run alongside of whether or not this is some sort of a cruel hoax, you're basically saying you're not going to get there from here?
PINNEO: Well, again, we're not sure what exactly it is we're dealing with. And again, to ensure that the waterway is safe and secure, we went ahead and closed it to traffic and then as the additional safety and security measure, we have our assets patrolling the area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Coast Guard Petty Officer Luke Pinneo, stand by for just a second. I want to bring in 7's Victoria Block one more time. She has some new information for us -- Vickie. VICTORIA BLOCK, WHDH REPORTER: I'm being told that these devices are circuit boards with lots of little lights on them and some cartoon figures like Spongebob. And when they light up, they give a crude gesture, the middle finger. They're operated on battery and set to some kind of a timer. And that's all have I been told at this point and that the big concern is that there are going to be some more or these could possibly be decoys, if you will.
But right now, they believe that it is tied to some college kids. They don't know who, they're hoping they can get prints off of these things. But I'm told now that they're circuit boards with lots of little lights on them and cartoon figures like Spongebob being one of them who gives somebody the figure when it lights up. And they're operated on batteries set with timers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. And, Vickie, basically, so right now, investigators are going on the possibility or the fact that this does appear to be some sort of a cruel hoax? I mean, is that the gist of it right now?
BLOCK: That's the gist of it right now. But they have to take everything seriously because the next one might not be a hoax. And a lot of times in these cases, you know, you have you one, two, three four hoaxes and then the fifth one is for real. So they're being very, cautious about it.
But right now they believe it's a hoax and it's tied to some college kids and they're hoping to get some prints off of the stuff. They believe that these things were planted late, late at night, early in the morning in the dark hours.
LEMON: And that was our affiliate WCVB in Boston. Their local coverage -- WHDH in Boston, their local coverage. We want to get to Fredricka Whitfield in the NEWSROOM. She has got more information for us.
Fred, what do you have?
WHITFIELD: Don, we want to show you new pictures that we're getting in of a location where emergency authorities have converged on. It is in Somerville, Massachusetts. So apparently we don't have access to those pictures as of yet. But at the intersection of O'Brien (ph) and McGrath (ph) Highway at an overpass there, now authorities are investigating a possible sixth suspicious device they're looking into.
I say possible because that message being underscored by authorities who are just arriving on the scene and looking at this to see if a suspicious package there may be in any way connected to the other five that have been located throughout the Boston area throughout the day.
This taking place in Somerville, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston proper. It is near Union Square at the McGrath Highway overpass. And when we get those pictures, we'll bring them to you. I've been monitoring the pictures over a satellite feed and able to see that a number of fire engines and police cars, et cetera, are at that location.
They have cordoned off the area. So there is not the kind of passing traffic you would ordinarily see there at that overpass near that intersection. But when we get any more information -- right now, a possible sixth suspicious package or device being investigated there near the Boston area in an area called Somerville, Massachusetts. When we get more information, Don and Kyra, we'll be able to bring that to you.
LEMON: And, Fredricka, it would be interesting to hear what law enforcement has to say about all of these devices even though none has been found to be explosive in nature. Why someone may be planting these. Obviously is it a dry run? Is it -- what could it mean? That would be interesting to find out.
But you said again, a possible sixth device, right? We have five and we have four on major roadways. And I imagine one this is close to the roadway, as well. And then we have one near the New England Medical Center.
WHITFIELD: Right. That's right. Of those locations that you mentioned, the Boston University Bridge suspicious package was disabled. And they found that there were no explosives, just evidence of a -- what appears to be a prank or a very strange message being conveyed through the circuit board, as well as the other device found earlier today.
And then the other locations at the Longfellow Bridge and the Stewart (ph) and Columbus (ph) streets intersection where the other devices or packages were also found, still being investigated and now this possible sixth one in Somerville, Massachusetts.
LEMON: All right. Fredricka, we'll keep checking back with you, keep monitoring that satellite for us. Thank you.
PHILLIPS: And we're waiting for a news conference, I'm being told 4:00 p.m. Eastern time by the Boston police to update us on what's going on right now. If you're just tuning in, we're looking at live pictures with WHDH out of Boston, Mass., one of the places where now possibly six devices are being investigated by authorities.
Six suspicious devices, one has already been rendered safe. Five others now being looked at by authorities there. Our Mike Brooks, law enforcement analyst, he has been a member of a bomb squad, he has also worked with the FBI's Counterterrorism Unit.
Mike, you've been working your sources. What more do you have?
MIKE BROOKS, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, Kyra, we just heard a few minutes ago from one of our affiliates in Boston and -- about these devices containing possibly toys, that kind of thing.
I've been able to confirm through a federal law enforcement source close to the investigation that that it is, in fact, some circuit boards with some lights and it involves some children's toys. And when they open this one hoax device up, the toy inside, the figure flips the bird, if you know what I mean. And it looks like right now it is just a cruel joke, if you will. But they're going to investigate on exactly who placed these there some times late last night or early this morning.
PHILLIPS: So that's just one of these six, or you're saying all of them are turning out to look like hoax devices?
BROOKS: It looks like all of them right now are turning out to be hoax devices. Now, as you were saying, there's a possibility of a sixth device. We haven't been able to confirm that as of yet. That this sixth device -- if you will, hoax device is connected with the others. Because you know how things go, Kyra. When something like this happens there's a heightened sense of awareness. Anything that someone sees out of place then could turn into a suspicious package.
PHILLIPS: So right now, the way everybody has responded -- authorities have responded, obviously it's a real deal response. But it looks like now, as you are finding out through your sources, all of these suspicious devices look to definitely be -- they are all pranks?
BROOKS: That's what it's looking like right now. But again, having an abundance of caution, you know, when you have something like this, Kyra, and you know, and having been with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force for a long time myself, I can say that when you respond to something like this, you still have to take it seriously because whether it be some students or someone else who's playing a sick joke on authorities -- or trying to play a sick joke on authorities, you still have to approach these things with an abundance of caution. Because you never know when something like this could be real. And that's why...
PHILLIPS: Well, let me throw something out, Mike.
PHILLIPS: You have responded to scenes like this before. Could somebody be sort of testing the system? Is it possible that they're trying to cause a distraction through fake devices, meanwhile there might be some real devices in other parts of the city or in another city as everybody's attention turns this way? I mean, are there other -- I don't mean to be a pessimist, but are there other possibilities that this could just be a distraction?
BROOKS: There's always that possibility. And, you know, having been in law enforcement for 26 years, I can tell you, you know, it's one of these things you always think about. You say OK, this one's a hoax device. But is there a real one out there? Are they testing out what we can do, you know, what our capabilities are? What our response techniques are?
There's always that in the back of the mind. But right now officials think that this is some kind of sick joke. But again, they're still approaching each one of these as they could be, a possibility of being actual improvised explosive device.
PHILLIPS: And if it turns out that indeed there is a person or persons behind these hoax devices, what could happen to them? I mean, is it jail time? Is it a fine? What is usually the outcome if they are able to track down who did this? And my guess is they probably will with all the various forces out there.
BROOKS: There's no doubt in my mind that they will eventually find out who's behind this, whether it be through forensics on the different devices or somebody running their mouth because when you have more than one person involved, somebody usually runs their mouth and brags to somebody.
But they could be facing some serious jail time on federal charges here and possibly state and local charges there in Boston.
PHILLIPS: All right. Mike Brooks, our law enforcement analyst there. He was the member of a bomb squad in his career, also the FBI's anti -- or Counterterrorism Unit and has some pretty amazing sources within law enforcement and also the FBI. So it turns out what -- at this point, what looked like to be a pretty big scare for the City of Boston, Mass., is turning out to be a hoax.
A number of devices that have been found by authorities have turned out to be devices made up of children's toys. As Mike was saying, obviously, definitely a sick joke in light of 9/11 what, we saw happen there. And then you see this type of scare hit a city. Of course, the media covering it and all the response.
I mean, this costs a lot of money, when you have all the various entities of law enforcement and also the Homeland Security Department getting involved, that's a tremendous cost to the taxpayer.
LEMON: And even hoax or not, you're going to get all the law enforcement, all the people out there to respond because after 9/11, as we have been reiterating and saying over and over here, no one is taking any chances with this even if law enforcement has -- initially thinks that this might be -- things like this might be a hoax, they're still not going to take any chances.
And you can see one of those devices there, that was from earlier, being destroyed. None so far has been proven to be explosive. And we just heard from our Fredricka Whitfield just a short time ago that a possible sixth device was found.
Just want to update you, 3:45 Eastern time here on the East Coast and this is -- you're looking at live pictures from Boston, Massachusetts. Investigators on the scene of five devices, possibly a sixth one found in the Boston, Massachusetts, area.
They have -- they have destroyed several of those devices and they have been found not to be explosive in nature. And officials at least early on are thinking that these are possibly all hoaxes.
PHILLIPS: All right. We'll continue to follow this news out of Boston, Mass. But right now it looks like this is not going to be a threat to the city. We'll continue to update you on the investigation. Right now it looks like these devices a hoax, not the real deal. We'll stay on top of that.
Something else that we've been following throughout the day, and that is the severe weather that's happening across the country, specifically in the Southeast.
Rob Marciano, you're now getting word of a number of flights that are being affected, specifically here in Atlanta because of the weather?
MARCIANO: Yes. Well, as you know, Delta has a huge hub in the Atlanta area. And Delta Air Lines has just told us they're now canceling 200 flights tomorrow morning and tonight.
So if you're flying with Delta tonight, your flight may very well be canceled. So they're actively asking you to call. They're trying to re-book people. It's probably -- I don't know if they're not going to charge you to re-book, but typically when the weather's bad like this, you know, they may not charge to you change their flight if it helps them.
Temperature right now is 40 in Atlanta, 40 in Birmingham. Look at Nashville and Memphis and Little Rock, I mean, these are about the daytime highs. We're only going to going down from here. And we've got moisture that is being picked up in the Gulf of Mexico. And during the day tomorrow, here's what the forecast weather map looks like.
Area of low pressure heading into the mid-Mississippi River Valley. And the pink -- or the purple, I should say, Little Rock to Memphis, Nashville, almost to Knoxville, Atlanta, and then up towards Spartanburg and Greenville, South Carolina, these are all areas where icing is going to be an issue.
As a matter of fact, about 20 minutes ago, the National Weather Service has upped their winter storm watch to a winter storm warning. And that's what we have highlighted in red, meaning that it is likely within the next 24 hours that we're going to start to see ice accumulate here and in the mountains maybe even some snow.
Notice it's right at the I-20 line here is where they're kind of delineating when we -- where we expect to see ice to begin to accumulate. So north of I-20 is where, especially in the morning, there will probably be some ice begin to accumulate, if not on the roads, on those overpasses which obviously become slick more quickly.
Up 85, this is where the air can get wedged in here or dammed up against the Appalachian Mountains. That tends to hold on for a little bit longer. But pretty aggressive play by Delta, Kyra. As you know, the Atlanta airport is south of I-20, but they're not taking any chances.
I can't imagine what it takes to be a crew scheduler or an airplane scheduler, to try to figure out how to prevent these delays. But there are going to be some delays. Right now, 200 flights are canceled tonight and tomorrow morning for Delta through the Atlanta airport.
PHILLIPS: Think our job is stressful, I'll tell you what, you don't want to be taking on that responsibility, especially right now. All right. Rob, thanks so much.
And also we want to remind our viewers, top of the hour, about 10 minutes away from a live news conference on this scare in Boston, Mass. Looks like it is a hoax. Six devices now getting checked out by authorities. So far they have come across five of them. One has been rendered safe. They're made up of children's toys. Sick joke as our law enforcement analyst says. And it will be interesting to see what happens to those that are going to be held responsible. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Developing news happening right here today in the CNN NEWSROOM, it's actually happening in Boston. Live pictures now. Let's take you, five suspicious packages planted near bridges and other spots in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. It has shut down major roadways, also some bridges and also one was found near a medical center.
Now, here's what we want you to know. These devices so far have been found not to be explosive. And authorities are telling us they believe they are hoaxes. Five devices, a possible sixth one found within just last 30 minutes. Someone who has information for us, Deborah Feyerick who is in our New York bureau.
Deb, what are you working for us?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here's what I can tell you, to update you. According to two law enforcement sources, the device itself, it's a blackboard with sort of white pegs on it. It resembles a cartoon character from the "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." The character that it most resembles is the Mooninite Marauders.
We are right now trying to contact the company to get some sort of a response as to whether in fact they had anything to do with this. A source is now telling us that other devices are now turning up in other parts of the country. All of that right now under investigation as authorities clearly scrambling to try to find out exactly what this is, Don.
LEMON: Yes. And you know, this is just sources within law enforcement here, and, Deb, I don't know if you can respond to this, they said this could obviously -- could be an out and out hoax or someone who could be testing the response of authorities to multiple suspicious devices.
FEYERICK: It could be that, clearly to see how law enforcement does respond when they're pulled in many directions. But right now, everyone seems to be saying that this is a hoax, whether this is some sort of a publicity stunt, whether this was done by a group of students, for example, it is simply not clear right now. But the image, it's sort of a square image. The character, a flat face with a line across and two slanted eyes. He's holding up his hand with his middle finger clearly visible. That's at least according to one of the devices. And that comes to us from two law enforcement sources.
LEMON: And you said you were getting it from other cities. What other cities specifically? Because I know it was either today or yesterday there was a suspicious device that shut down a railway station in Virginia. What cities are you hearing, Deb?
FEYERICK: Well, right now, I'm not being given the names of specific cities where these devices seem to be appearing. But that is what is now circulating throughout members of the intelligence community.
LEMON: That certainly would be odd if that would happen in other cities. Thank you, Deb Feyerick. If you get more information, please get back to us.
And again, we want to update you, almost the top of the hour. We're waiting for a news conference, Kyra, at 4:00 Eastern to happen in Boston so that officials can alert the public as to exactly what is going on. And as we've been saying, it's getting close to the 4:00 hour and close to rush hour there in Boston where people are going to come out from their offices if they have not been able to follow the news. And they are going to find out what is going on and obviously be in a log jam when it comes to traffic.
But again, five suspicious devices found. None explosive. And a possible sixth device found within probably just the last 30 minutes. We're going to take a break here -- right here in the CNN NEWSROOM and we'll be back in just a little bit to update the story for you.
PHILLIPS: All right. We're getting more information out of that developing story out of Boston, Massachusetts. You know, we took a real serious spin on this story, thinking that it might be a threat to the city of Boston, Massachusetts, when a number of devices were found throughout the city.
Now according to our correspondents talking with their sources in the FBI and also the Department of Homeland Security, it looks like that this is a hoax. It looks like this could possibly just be a publicity stunt for a cartoon and an animated series.
LEMON: And someone who may have information for us, Mike Brooks, our security expert on the phone now.
And, Mike, what are you working for us?
BROOKS: Well, Don and Kyra, again, we always say that when something like this happens, you know, it's tough to put the genie back in the bottle. But law enforcement officials are thinking that this is a sick hoax. And that there is no threat to Boston or any other city right now. And they're going to try to find out who was responsible for this.
And I guarantee you, it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when they find out who's responsible for this. Those people will be looking at possible serious jail time, because these kind of things are costly. They could be very dangerous. And you know, you're putting professionals' lives at risk, even when you're doing a sick hoax such as this.
PHILLIPS: I'll tell you, whoever is behind it, they're not going to be laughing when law enforcement get their hands on them, Mike Brooks.
BROOKS: Definitely not. You know, when you see the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and Boston PD come knocking at your door, they're definitely going to change their tune.
LEMON: Hey, Mike, we were listening to Deb Feyerick. We talked to her just a short while ago. She was working her sources around the country and she's saying she's hearing about other suspicious devices or packages happening in other cities. Have you heard anything about that through your sources?
BROOKS: I was just talking to one of my federal law enforcement sources. And they have not heard anything at all about any connection with Boston to any other city with these kind of devices. Again, it's something that can't be ruled out. But right now it, looks like it's just in Boston, but I'm looking into that a little bit further to see if there is any connection to any other cities.
PHILLIPS: Mike, thanks. The other highlight today was on the New York Stock Exchange floor where Susan Lisovicz got a one-on-one with the president. The Dow closing at a new record high. Take a look at the Big Board real quickly. Dow Industrials up 101 points right now.
Susan doing a great job for us, not only bringing the numbers but getting the president live on television. That was a first there from the floor.
LEMON: Yes. How often does that happen? Susan Lisovicz. Is Susan going to join us live or are we going to forego Susan because of that?
Yes. We are going to "THE SITUATION ROOM: in a little bit. But before we leave, we want to tell you, five or six suspicious devices found. None turned out to be what they believe are explosive. So we're head to "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer.
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