Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

FBI Has Suspect's Laptop; Three Friends Of Bomb Suspect Charged; Widow Of Suspect Faces More Questions; SWAT Raid Caught On Camera; Five Year Old Kills Two-Year-Old Sister; Republicans Face Gun Vote Criticism; Scientists Say Evidence Of Cannibalism In Jamestown; Mountain Dew Pulls Racist Ad; Wildfire Out Of Control In California; Social Media in Surgery

Aired May 2, 2013 - 13:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We now have confirmation that a key piece of evidence has been found. Two federal law enforcement officials tell CNN the FBI has in fact recovered the laptop that the bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, left in his dorm room. It's not clear how or when the FBI got the laptop, but one official says it was not found during the search of a landfill near the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth where he was a student.

Three of Dzhokhar's college buddies are accused of removing that laptop from the suspect's room along with a backpack and Vaseline. The 19 year olds were arrested yesterday. They're in custody of the FBI right now. Their lawyers say their clients are cooperating with investigators.

Authorities also want to know more from the widow of the older suspected bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Investigators say Katherine Russell had a phone call with her husband after his picture appeared on national television but before investigators had identified him. Two sources tell CNN authorities want to know the nature of that phone conversation and why she didn't notify police.

The discovery of the suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's computer is a big break in the Boston investigation. It's one of the pieces of evidence three of his friends are accused of taking from that dorm room to try to throw investigators off his trail. They're in the custody of the federal authorities right now facing specific charges.

Deborah Feyerick is joining us now with more on what's going on. Deb, all of us want to know how the laptop was found, what the investigators hope to learn from it? What are you learning?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here is what we can tell you. We know that the computer was here at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room the night he went on the run. He and another friend, Dias Kadyrbayev were texting one another at 8:30, 8:00. And at that point, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said, you know, if you want anything, come to my room and take it. Well, the friend that came with two other men -- all of them now facing charges, but the friend came to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room here and they took a backpack which was filled with empty fireworks container. The black powder had been removed. They also took the computer. Now, Kadyrbayev -- Dias Kadyrbayev was questioned as early as April 19th even before the bomb suspect was discovered hiding in that boat. He was already in custody. He was already being questioned by investigators. And one of the reasons that they're doing a whole electronic trail of people that the two individuals were talking to, communicating with, e-mails, cell phones. And that's why this man Dias popped up on their radar. They found -- Dias told investigators, according to the complaint, that he had gotten rid of the backpack, they found all that in the landfill. But the suggestion is he held onto the laptop. So, investigators may have had it for a few days now. That's one of the things that we're looking into -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm sure they're trying to find out everything that was on that laptop. Lot's -- a lot of potential clues.

We're also learning more about Tsarnaev's three friends and the charges they face. What else is going on?

FEYERICK: What we know is that the two Kazakhstan students -- the two Kazak students are facing charges of obstructing justice and destroying potential evidence that was to be used in a criminal case. The third, an American, he is simply being charged -- and it's a serious charge still, but he's being charged with making materially false statements to FBI agents. And some people I'm talking to say that he may have just been at the wrong place, wrong time because he's the one who initially reached out to one of the Kazak students and said, hey, have you seen who's on television? So, serious charges.

The foreign minister of Kazakhstan did reach out and made very clear, he said -- he said that the two students are charged with destroying evidence. They are not charged with being involved in a terror group. And so, the foreign ministry clarifying that as well. And right now, they're being questioned. They are in custody. And it'll be interesting to see whether, in fact, FBI agents are able to get additional information on them or perhaps get information that suggests how much they knew before the bombing because apparently Dias did tell them that Tsarnaev had told them about a month earlier he knew how to build a bomb -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, that was an intriguing part of that criminal complaint. The investigators also have some serious questions for Katherine Russell, the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother. I understand they're especially curious, Deb, about a conversation she had with her husband after his photo was released in connection with the bombing. What do we know about that?

FEYERICK: What we do know is that there is -- there is a record of a phone call that was -- that was placed between the two phones, between Katherine Russell's phone and the phone of her late husband. That phone call was made after the pictures were released at about 5:00 in the evening and before the shootout which led to her husband's death. Also, Wolf, it's interesting, she's distancing herself just a little bit. She decided not to claim Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body instead saying that it belonged to the family, to the mother and father -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Have her lawyers ever explained why she didn't call the police if -- and this is still a big if, if she recognized from the photo that this was, in fact, her husband and her brother-in-law?

FEYERICK: No, it's not clear. And it could be something as simple as she saw her husband and was calling up to say what's going on? Or that perhaps she had a deeper understanding about what was going to happen and therefore may have been alerting him. That's one of the -- those are the two possibilities and that's what they're looking into. But, again, it happened after the pictures were released but before the shootout with the MIT Officer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, if she would have -- if, in fact, she recognized her husband and if she would've -- it's a big if. If she would have called police or the FBI, maybe that police officer at MIT, Sean Collier, would have -- would not have been killed later that night. All right. Thanks very much, Deb Feyerick reporting.

We have some dramatic new video coming in from a SWAT Team raid during the Boston bombing investigation. That was -- that would be on April 19th. The Boston area, as a lot of our viewers will remember, was on lockdown. One bombing suspect was dead, the other on the run. During the search, a SWAT Team raids a location in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE.) Oh, my god, do you think it's him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) with your hands up. No one will get hurt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody stay here, OK? Do not move.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Felix Jorge shot this, the cell phone video, while he and his family took cover inside their house. Earlier today, he described the tense situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FELIX JORGE: I actually thought that the -- they had caught the suspect in the neighborhood and that he was in the house at that moment. And, of course, I was very terrified. My children and I hid downstairs in the basement closet. And we were just waiting for anything to happen, you know?

Boston is about an hour away from where I live, so I thought, wow, I definitely feel sorry for the folks in Boston and everything. But I was, like, you know, good thing it didn't happen over here because we're a pretty small town. And for this to happen, I mean, you know, 40, 50 SWAT people and police and state police and everything to show up on your doorstep, rifles trained, you know, with a storm moving in, a literal storm, it really was one of the scariest moments of my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Of course, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was not there. He was found later in Watertown, Massachusetts. Remember, he was hiding in that boat in someone's backyard. But this is where his two friends from Kazakhstan were first taken into custody.

Tragic story coming out of Kentucky involving kids and guns. A two year old was shot and killed by her five-year-old brother with a 22 caliber rifle the boy got for his birthday. Police say the boy was playing with his cricket single-shot rifle when it discharged hitting the toddler. Family members say it was an accident.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINDA RIDDLE: He just picked it up before he realized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just a tragic accident. It's just tragic. He was just -- it's something that you can't prepare for.

RIDDLE: I just know she's in heaven right now, and I know she's in good hands with the lord.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The Crickett rifle Web site features 22 caliber guns for kids in bright colors. My first rifle is the company slogan.

Martin Savidge is following this story for us. Martin, we reached out to the makers of the cricket rifle, they declined comment pending an investigation into the deadly shooting. What more are you learning?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this particular company is saying right now, and it's Keystone Sporting Arms, they are out of Pennsylvania, they say that right now, given the sensitivities, given, of course, the grief that this family must be going through and until an investigation determines exactly what happened, they're reserving any kind of comment. And authorities are also going very carefully in Kentucky. This is Cumberland County, Kentucky, where this all occurred on Wednesday because, again, the grief that's involved of what they believe is nothing more than a tragic accident.

But what has many people talking here is, of course, there is a great sensitivity in this country right now over the issue of guns and who should have access and maybe who should not. And that has many looking at this saying, well, perhaps there was a way to legislate this accident from happening. And those who are opposed to any kind of gun control or further gun control say that's not the case.

Ben Ferguson speaking on Piers Morgan last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN FERGUSTON, HOST, CONSERVATIVE RADIO: If you want to, you know, legislate parents being dumb or not dumb, you figure out how to do it and we'll see if it works. But you can't blame the gun for the situation where you have a dumb parent.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SAVIDGE: This, in his mind, is not a case of a gun control debate issue. It is talking about whether a child should have had access to the firearm. The child, by the way, was given that gun as a birthday present.

BLITZER: Is it unusual, Martin, for a company to market guns to children?

SAVIDGE: Well, certainly that is this focus of this particular gun manufacturer. And they make the guns smaller in size, easier for children to handle and they also make them in colors that children find appealing, pink and blue and others.

But it should be pointed out, of course, and you know this, Wolf, that in this country, there are many areas where the hunt -- joining the hunt, being part of the family tradition, handing down guns, firearms training, all of that is almost considered a rite of passage. So, as much as in the urban areas where you teach a child to throw a football and catch a baseball, firearm -- proper use of firearms is widely practiced in many rural areas. So, it's not surprising that perhaps a young child could be shown a weapon, taught how to handle a weapon.

I think the question that's going to be raised here is why was a loaded gun in reach of a child? How did a parent in that house allow that to happen? The mother says she stepped out for just a moment but that is all it took. She heard the gunshot, came inside and found the two year old wounded, later died at the hospital.

BLITZER: Yes. A five-year-old kid with a loaded gun. That's -- obviously, something wrong there. All right, Martin, thanks very much.

Here is what we're working on this hour, other news we're following. Republican senators are under pressure right now as victims of gun violence demand answers about why they voted against expanding background checks.

Also, no food, rough weather and under siege. Researchers say there's early evidence that the early American settlers practiced cannibalism to survive.

And it's being called the most racist commercial in history. We're talking about the new Mountain Dew ad that has African-American men in a police lineup along with a battered white woman and a very rude goat. Now, Pepsi is scrambling to try to repair the image.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get to Paul Vercammen right now. He's joining us on the phone from Newbury Park in California, not far from Los Angeles. I take it firefighters are continuing to battle, Paul, what has been a fast growing southern California wildfire? What's the latest?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, on this fire here which started in Camareo, it's jumped over a large here and gone into the Newbury Park area. Right now where we sit we can see four, five, six-foot walls of flame. We also see firefighters being extremely aggressive. Flames are burning about 20 yards, 25 yards from some homes right here in upscale neighborhood, and they're using fire to fight fire. I can see one man right now, one firerighter, who is using his gascan to fight (ph) back fires and try to head off this blaze from going into this Newbury Park area that's on the other side of this large hill to the south of Camareo.

The winds shifted dramatically, Wolf. They say the winds are blowing about 25 miles an hour. But there are no -- there's no doubt that some of these gusts are even more than that. And that's what fanned these flames so quickly. So now this other flank has become extremely active and there's a fierce fire fight. This is called the Dos Vientos (ph) or Lo Sientos (ph) neighborhood of Newbury Park. We understand now, we can see people, there are mandatory evacuations, people are gathering their belongings and head on out. You can see go around the neighborhoods setting up what's called structure protection, in other words trying to build fire lines and save homes.

BLITZER: Do they have some of the aircraft coming in with water to try to deal with this? Is that happening yet?

VERCAMMEN: Yes and no. Here's part of the problem. The smoke is so utterly thick right now, for example, we are in the middle of it and we can't see much more than let's say a quarter mile. And visibility is shrinking dramatically. They had a problem getting up some of the fixed-wing aircraft because they can't see well enough to drop the retardant. We do see -- I did hear from a commander they got three helicopters, but there are a lot -- there's a long active flank of flames. Many different hot spots right now. So they've got a lot to reckon with. And they're going to have to pick and choose. So far we have not seen any homes burn down here in Newbury Park, but it's quite a battle. I mean, I can tell you right now where I am in this one neighborhood, let's see I can see ten houses along the fire line. There's active flames threatening all of those houses. And it looks like the fire is now coming down the hill. They are using the backfire to burn back up the hill and hopefully cut off its advance.

BLITZER: We'll stay in close touch with you and hope for the best. Thank our affiliate KTLA for those pictures as well. Very dramatic stuff going on. Let's hope they get this under control very, very soon. Look at those pictures.

Let's get to politics right now. Some lawmakers who voted against expanding the background checks system for gun sales in the United States, they are now dealing with the blowback from gun control advocates. Just this week the daughter of the principal killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre confronted Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte at a town hall meeting. In another meeting Erica Lafferty walked out when she didn't get an answer to her questions. Also gun control supporters plan to confront the Arizona senator Jeff Flake at an event that's happening right now.

I want to bring in our chief political analyst Gloria Borger. Gloria, how much pressure are some of these lawmakers who voted against expanding background checks beginning to feel right now? GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think some of them in some states as you just pointed out in Arizona, in New Hampshire, are beginning to feel the pressure. They're beginning to see the popularity go down because what you're seeing is the pro-gun control groups with the backing of someone's money like Mayor Bloomberg starting to run ads in their districts and in their states, they're taking a page from the NRA book. And they're saying, you know what, our people have to have the same kind of passion on our side that the NRA has on its side. And we want to hold members accountable. We're going to start score cards of our own because we have 80 percent to 90 percent of the American public with us. And we have to start behaving that way.

So what you're seeing is stepping up on the pressure and really trying to shift the paradigm in American politics which is that if you're a Republican from a red state or a Democrat from a conservative state, that you can't vote for any kind of gun control. They really want to shift that. And I think they may have an opportunity to do it, Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, as you know, Gloria, the Republican senator from Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey, he cosponsored the background check measure expanding background checks, he had this to say about the defeat in the Senate. I'll put it up on the screen.

"In the end it didn't pass because we're so politicized. There were some on my side who do not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done just because the president wanted to do it. The toughest thing to do in politics is to do the right thing when your supporters think the right thing is something else. He's being pretty blunt, isn't he?

BORGER: He is. Actually, Wolf, I think that's why we elect politicians. We elect them because they're supposed to learn about issues and explain to us when in fact they may discover something they didn't know before. And we expect them to go back to their constituencies and say, you know what, actually, this is the way it is. This is how this would work. And this is why I'm changing my mind.

I understand that voters are very cynical and skeptical of politicians for flip-flopping, but if somebody changes like Pat Toomey, you have to listen to him and let him explain to you why he's doing it. And these reflexive of kind of politics we have are because people are elected from districts that are increasingly polarized, states that are increasingly polarized. So it's really not in anyone's political self-interest to say, you know what, I kind of have to disagree with my base on this.

BLITZER: Good point. Fair point. See you later in the situation room.

BORGER: Sure.

BLITZER: Gloria, thanks very much.

A missing mother of two from Pennsylvania found in Florida, get this, 11 years after she vanished without a trace.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A woman who disappeared from her Pennsylvania home 11 years ago has now resurfaced in Florida. Brenda Heist turned herself in to authorities in Key Largo, Florida, last week telling them she thought she might be wanted in another county. Heist had been last seen in February 2002 dropping her children off for school. The former neighbor shocked to learn she's still alive. Police say she had been living on the streets in Key Largo.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DET. JOHN SCHOFIELD, LILITZ, PENNSYLVANIA POLICE: She's pretty much at the end of her rope down there living on the streets. I mean, I think she just has had it. Her health wasn't good. And she was just tired of running.

ARLENE BINGEMAN, FORMER NEIGHBOR: What a shock. What a shock. But I'm glad she's alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Now Heist admits she simply walked out on her family. So far no charges have been filed.

Now to the high-tech front lines. What if your child was in surgery, you were not in the operating room, but you got a text about how it was going? That's exactly what is in the works. Our Laurie Segall brings us the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Bailey's performing a tupee procedure right now and there wasn't enough room in the OR, so we're following it on Twitter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twitter?

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Live updates aren't just for TV shows like "Grey's Anatomy."

DR. PETER TAUB, PEDIATRIC SURGEON: So if I wanted to send a message to this child or this child's parents and the choices are pretty standard: your child is now asleep comfortably under anesthesia, your procedure has now started.

SEGALL: Dr. Peter Taub is a pediatric surgeon using an app called MD Connect Me. It sends pre-written texts and e-mails to a patient's loved ones during surgery.

TAUB: Surgery in itself takes anywhere from four, six, eight hours. That's a lot of time these kids are away from their parents. In this modern age of technology parents really love getting those updates.

SEGALL: Usually they're sent by a nurse or medical resident. How do you manage to get notifications out during the surgery?

TAUB: Well, we have help. Part of the system is you need somebody in the operating room who can work with you.

SEGALL: Medicine is starting to take a small dose of high-tech. Congress has created incentives for using electronic health records. The latest being the provisions in the Affordable Care Act.

NAT TURNER, COFOUNDER FLAT IRON: The first thing you have to do in health care to have technology transform it is the data has to be electronic.

SEGALL: Matt Turner is a serial entrepreneur, who sold his last company to Google at age 24. Now he's taking on another problem, cancer with big data. Flat Iron is a platform for oncologists. It helps doctors use data in their treatment plans. It enables doctors to compare treatment plans for patients with similar diagnoses.

TURNER: We're just now starting to return results back to the centers to say did you know these four or five treatments are working better than you thought?

SEGALL: The inspiration came from Turner's then-seven-year-old's leukemia diagnosis. This is Turner's cousin in a commercial for St. Jude's Medical Center.

TURNER: The biggest change will be data-driven health care where the physician sitting there on her iPad with the patient, not this is what you have to do, but here are 15 things you should consider based on past historical treatment with other patients.

SEGALL: When it comes to health, high-tech solutions in a high -stakes field. Laurie Segall, CNN money, New York.

BLITZER: A facial recognition failed. Why video of the Boston suspect came up empty on computer software and law enforcement had to ask the public for help.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)