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CNN NEWSROOM

Exclusive Interview with SWAT Team who Took Down Tsarnaev; Mother Claims Her Sons Are Innocent; Bomb Suspect Now in Fair Condition; Nike Pulls "Boston Massacre" Shirts

Aired April 23, 2013 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Mohammed Jamjoom in Beirut, appreciate it. Thanks, Mohammed.

Infrared video was used to locate the suspect. Coming up, my exclusive interview with the SWAT team that helped to take down Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the final few minutes.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We broke away from the shield protective cover and rushed him. We put hands on him, grabbed him, and pulled him off the boat.

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COOPER: Welcome back to a special edition of CNN NEWSROOM, live from Boston.

The SWAT team that took bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev out of the boat and into custody talked with me earlier about how it all went down. Here's their story.

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COOPER: When you first saw them, what did you think?

OFFICER JEFF CAMPBELL, MBTA TRANSIT POLICE SWAT: This is the target. This is the job, you know? We're almost done with this, and let's do it, you know? Let's just do what we're trained to do, you know? This is the suspect. We're trained to go in and apprehend him.

You could see one hand was clear of any weapons, but, each time he went back the other way, his hand went down inside the boat out of our view. And I know everybody here -- we've spoken about it -- each time he did that, we had to assume he was reaching for either a weapon, firearm, or some type of explosive ignition device to try to draw us in and then take us out in a suicide-type manner.

He did that a couple of times as we're still approaching towards him. We got close enough that at one point where both of his hands were up, because of the rocking back and forth, both of his hands were up, we could see there were no weapons, no ignition devices, broke away from the shield protective cover and rushed him.

We put hands on him, grabbed him, pulled him off the boat down one to the ground. At that point it just became a -- I don't want to say typical, but an arrest situation. You check the suspect for weapons. Of course, him, we had to check him for explosives, take his sweatshirt off he may have been wearing a suicide vest.

We still didn't know if the boat had been rigged with explosives, a timed device or anything else because of their behavior all week long. So at that point we needed to get him away from the boat. As soon as he was checked for anything, handcuffed, we picked him up and ran like hell to get away from the boat and get him to where the medics were and agents.

COOPER: There were reports he was shot in the throat, but unclear whether that was self-inflected, whether it -- what point. Could you tell that?

CAMPBELL: I did see a throat injury. To me it looked like a knife wound. It wasn't a puncture hole. It was a slice where the -- where it was spread open. Possibly a piece of shrapnel from one of the explosives that they were using the night before. It didn't look like a bullet wound to me. It looked more like a cut of some kind.

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COOPER: The men on that SWAT team wanted to make clear everybody knows that there were a lot of different agencies involved, federal, state, local law enforcement involved in the apprehension of the suspect and they were proud to be part of a larger team.

Tonight, I'll talk with a runner who lived through the Boston bombing and then flew down to West, Texas, and happened to be there at the plant explosion. That's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and 10:00 p.m. tonight on "360."

Coming up, a look at suspect's health, what he's communicated to law enforcement.

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COOPER: Welcome back to a special edition of CNN NEWSROOM live from Boston. Several major developments in our ongoing coverage of the terror attack to tell you.

A private funeral service just held for MIT police officer Sean Collier, found as you know, shot to death in the patrol car on the campus of MIT last Thursday. He was killed by the brothers. Exactly why, it's unclear.

The older Tsarnaev brother later died in a shootout with police. He's said to have been the mastermind of the bombing. CNN spoke to the mother of the suspects. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ZUBEIDAT TSARNAEVA, BOMBING SUSPECTS' MOTHER (via telephone): My sons were innocent! And I love them. And I want the whole world to hear about it. I love them and I will love them. And I want to go to -- I mean, I want to join them.

If they're going to kill me today, I will be happy. Happy, OK? I will say, Allahu akbar.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, the mothers says she believes her sons were framed.

Police say the one who was captured has admitted to the bombings. Nineteen-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has indicated to investigators that he and his brother were self-radicalized jihadists and that no one else was involved in the attack. Obviously, the investigate is still very much in its early days.

The teenage suspect is still in the hospital on a ventilator. He's been communicating mostly by nodding his head or shaking his head. He did speak when asked this question. "You've got the right to an attorney at this initial appearance, during any questioning at any lineup and at all proceedings in court." He was asked, "You also have the right to have this court assign counsel if you cannot afford counsel or you cannot obtain counsel. Can you afford lawyer?" The defendant indicated "No."

Deborah Feyerick joins us now with more on what the suspect is telling law enforcement. What apparently do we know that he told investigators about the motive behind the bombing?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, Anderson, all indications are that Tsarnaev has indicated or suggested to investigators that, in fact, religion, radical Islam, was one of the reasons. Their belief in jihad was why they did this attack.

Again, anything that he says, certainly from his hospital bed, investigators are going to have to run to the ground to make sure that this is true. We don't know what the real motivation is. He's saying perhaps it's jihadi. Others perhaps are looking into something deeper as to why he may have done this.

You know, we have said that, in fact, the brothers -- that the older brother was the mastermind, that he self-radicalized and, by all accounts, people we're talking to, it does seem like he was the one who took it upon himself to become radicalized. That is, there is no suggestion, at least right now, that he was recruited.

He did travel to Russia, we know, in January of 2012 and a lot of investigators believe that during that time he may -- may -- have received training. That's what they're looking into right now because, when you look at this event, when you look at all that's happening, everything was done really almost operationally perfectly -- the way they walked, the way they planted the bombs, all of that.

And so to suggest that perhaps that is something that they learned on the Internet, investigators don't quite believe that, although Tsarnaev, according to a source that spoke to Jake Tapper, apparently Tsarnaev told them they learned how to make the device over the Internet. So they're looking into that. They want to make sure that, in fact, that is the case.

Again, what we've seen in a lot of cases, Anderson, as you well know, is that a number of people have tried to attack America, tried to attack the United States, but the one thing that always failed was the device that they were trying to use to hurt people. This one succeeded. And so the level of sophistication is sort of ratcheted up to a whole new level. They had everything right, and that's why investigators are not 100 percent sure that in fact these two were able to pull it off.

The older brother, the 26-year-old, believed to be the mastermind, the motive, possibly radical Islam, jihadi and everything else really is still very much in play as investigators are spanning out across many parts of the world.

Anderson?

COOPER: Yeah, I just want to stress, there's a lot we do not know about this investigation, and a lot of theories, frankly, at this point.

I talked to Tom Fuentes, former assistant director of the FBI, in the last hour who said there have been cases before of people learning how to make explosive devices, even more complex explosive devices than ones used allegedly by the Tsarnaev brothers at the Boston marathon and learning how to do that over the Internet.

So there's -- you talk to different people, different explosive experts, they'll say different things.

We still have a lot to learn about exactly who is behind this, exactly how the whole operation came to be.

Deb Feyerick, I appreciate the update.

Coming up, the latest on the flooding across the Midwest. Rivers in northern Illinois have surged to record levels. Thousands of people have been evacuated.

We'll have an update on that.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of emotional to kind of see this situation. And, you know, it's a bad deal.

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COOPER: Welcome back to our special coverage of the Boston bombings. We just got a tweet from the U.S. attorney who says that according to the hospital that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in, they've now listed his condition as fair. Previously his condition had been listed as serious. So that would be -- obviously be an upgrade.

Want to talk about those Boston massacre T-shirts that have been pulled by Nike. The shirts were designed, obviously, for Yankee fans for the 1978 series between New York and the Red Sox. They had the words "Boston massacre" on them splattered with blood splattered lettering Nike issued an apology. Says it's pulled them from the market. They were on -- still on sale several days after the bombing. I think that's what the apology is about. But, obviously, those shirts have been around for years now.

People all across the country are experiencing long delays at airports. It's because of those federal forced spending cuts, we're told. Thousands of air traffic controller are being furloughed, which means fewer take-offs and fewer landings.

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ALEXA BARRON, PASSENGER: If there's some cost cutting and I don't feel it too badly, I'm all for it. If it becomes painful, then I think we need to figure out another way to deal with things.

JOHN RYAN, PASSENGER: We're all going to pay the price.

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COOPER: Well, if your flight's been delayed, we want to hear from you. Let us - tell us by sending us a tweet @cnnireport. You can also tag your Instigram photos with #cnnireport. Let us know what's happening at the airport where you are.

The town of West, Texas, is getting ready for a visit from President Obama and the first lady. They'll go to Baylor University, in nearby Waco, to attend a memorial service for the victims who were killed during the explosion last week. Fourteen people died there. Several of the deceased are first responders, the volunteer fire department, who are rushing in to save others. Also volunteer EMS workers. The plant -- the blast has left the town, an area about four or five blocks around the fertilizer plant, in ruins. And, obviously, they're trying to find a way to rebuild. It's a small town. A lot of good people there. A lot of people still suffering hard there.

In the Midwest, it's the water that's the problem. The steady downpours have caused flooding in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Mississippi, Michigan. Thousands have been forced from their homes.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is your home?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My home is that gray and white mobile home with the black shutters on it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't get to your home by foot now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Yesterday I cried all day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, I'm not crying yet. But the more I see that water come up, the more I'll cry.

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COOPER: People in parts of Missouri who have not fled are working with members of the National Guard. They're helping with sandbagging. A lot of need there.

Boston is returning to work today. Parts of the city are reopening just eight days after the bombing. We're going to continue our special coverage after a quick break.

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COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage live from Boston.

You're seeing people starting to actually go back to some of the businesses that have been closed for the last eight days here on Boylston Street where the bombings occurred. Just only a limited numbers of people, business owners, are able to go back. It's not open to the general public just yet.

We also have received a tweet from the U.S. attorney's office in Massachusetts saying that the hospital, Beth Israel Hospital, has now listed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's condition as fair. That's an upgrade from serious. We're going to bring you more on that in the next hour.

Also want to bring you up to date on another story. Shortly after the attack I met with Ron Brassard (ph) from New Hampshire. He and his family were at the marathon to cheer on a friend. Ron, his wife, their daughter and their daughter's friend, they were all injured.

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RON BRASSARD: I couldn't - I see people's mouths moving and stuff, but I couldn't hear anything. And --

COOPER: How close were you to the first bomb?

BRASSARD: I think we were probably about 10 feet away. The noise was, I think, scarier than the blast itself because it was so loud.

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COOPER: Well, I just wanted to share his story with you again so I could update you. We called the hospital. Ron is in good condition. He does need more surgery. But he's said to be doing well.

We have been taking time out to remember the victims of the bombings. I'm joined, actually, by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, whose joining us on the phone right now.

Sanjay, just this information we got in this tweet from the U.S. attorney's office saying the hospital, Beth Israel, has upgraded the suspect's condition to fair. What does that tell you? What exactly does that mean?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, its -- when you go from first serious condition, which means that the person's vital signs -- looking at the heart rate, the blood pressure, things like that -- are stable but still going up and down a bit, a little bit concerning, still requiring an intensive care unit, to fair, that basically means that things have now become stable and stayed stabilized, which is, you know, you and I were talking about this a little bit last night. It's sort of exactly what you'd expect. It sounds like the operation that was done was done on Saturday. We're now three days after the operation. And it's pretty standard for a patient with that sort of condition to be improving steadily. So it basically means he's -- I think doctors would say he's sort of out of the woods. The biggest concern time is over. There's still concern about things like infection, obviously, any further operations he may need. But I think it's a very good sign overall.

COOPER: Still what we don't know is how much authorities will be able to continue to talk to him today and tomorrow. A lot of that will depend not only on his willingness to talk, but also on his medical condition.

GUPTA: Yes. And one thing I want to point out again regarding that, Anderson, is that when you think about putting one of these airways in, in this case an airway that goes into the trachea, it can be done because someone, for example, is so sleepy after an injury but they cannot breathe on their own, they cannot protect their own airway. In this situation, it was for a different reason. It was because of an injury to the neck. So it's more of a mechanical concern. Could something compress the airway? So let's keep it open, for example, and using this tube. And the reason that's relevant, Anderson, is because they're basically saying, look, there's no concern about head injury, there's no concern about something that's going to require significant sedation. This is more of a mechanical issue. And that's why, I'm sure, he's been upgraded to fair as well.

COOPER: Right. We'll have more of his condition tonight at 8:00 on "360." I hope you join me for that. I'll be on at 8:00 and 10:00.

That does it for me right now. Our special coverage, though, continues after a short break.

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