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Manhattan Explosion Injured 29; Minnesota Attack Inspired By ISIS; News Conference On The New York City Explosion; NY Officials: All 29 Bombing Victims Released from Hospitals; New York Mayor Declines to Call Bombing "Terrorism"; ISIS Claims "Soldier" who Stabbed 8 at Shopping Mall. Aired 12-1p

Aired September 18, 2016 - 12:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C., where the state of our union is on edge.

We are standing by for a news conference where New York City's mayor and New York City police officials will update us on the investigation into last night's explosion in Manhattan. Twenty-nine people were injured in the blast, which New York Mayor Bill de Blasio describes as an intentional act.

Police found a second device, a pressure cooker connected to a cell phone just blocks away from the initial explosion. A senior law enforcement official tells CNN that investigators have not yet found any good surveillance video from either location. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo briefed reporters a short time ago.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: At this time there's no evidence of an international terrorism connection with this incident.


TAPPER: Crime lab investigators are checking to see if there is any connection between the Manhattan blast and an explosion in New Jersey yesterday. Someone there in the Garden State planted three pipe bombs in a trash can along the route of a charity Marine Corps race on the Jersey Shore. Only one of the devices detonated and fortunately no one was injured, likely because a delayed start in the race meant the runners had not yet gathered when the bomb went off.

There is also some breaking news in the investigation into yesterday's attack at a Minnesota shopping mall. A statement posted online today by a media wing of ISIS claims that the attacker was -- quote -- "a soldier of the Islamic state." Witnesses say that the man asked at least one of his victims if he or she were Muslim before he attacked. An off-duty officer killed the man, who police say was known to them. One of the eight people wounded in the attack remains hospitalized. The others have been released. As we await this press conference from the NYPD and from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio let's right now bring in CNN's Jessica Schneider. She's on the scene of last night's explosion in New York. And, Jessica, New York Governor Cuomo just told reporters there is far they do not know of any link with international terrorism. Was there any other new information he shared?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Governor Cuomo, Jake, said that the property damage at the building where this explosion occurred is significant. The explosion occurring just down West 23rd Street near Sixth Avenue. Governor Cuomo saying because of that significant property damage it's lucky that were no fatalities here. There were, in fact, 29 people injured, but all 29 of those people who were treated at local hospitals they have all been treated and released. So no major injuries.

Now, as for the investigation, it's pretty much twofold. It's focused on forensics and surveillance. The explosive device that went off just down the street here as well as that pressure cooker that was found four blocks north of here on West 27th, both of those and the debris from it have been taken to FBI lab. The FBI lab down in Quantico, Virginia. They'll be analyzed.

But Governor Cuomo saying that it does not look like the devices here in Manhattan were at all connected to the ones down in Seaside Park, New Jersey, or one of those pipe bombs that went off before the Marine Corps charity run. So that's a preliminary report.

In addition, the investigators are looking at the surveillance video. This is a very busy area of Manhattan, the Chelsea neighborhood especially on a Saturday night. Investigators are now combing through and sifting through some of that surveillance video. We've learned that they have spotted an individual in that surveillance video who was in the approximate location of the explosion but it's not clear if that person is connected to the explosion. Some of the other video that they've garnered out here however a bit grainy and not offering a lot of clues as of yet as to how exactly this transpired and who may be responsible. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. I'm joined by CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez.

Evan, bad news about the surveillance video apparently right now, but I know law enforcement is hoping that that second pressure cooker might provide some clues. What are your sources telling you?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, that's right. I think -- I think they're going to have a lot to work with, Jake. One of the things that, frankly, is lucky here again there's no deaths that have resulted from this, but the device that was recovered is now on its way to Quantico where they're going to be able to recover a lot of information, not only perhaps where the pressure cooker was bought, which is one way you can maybe trace who might have bought this and might have had something to do with this, but also if there's any DNA that was left behind by the bomb maker. And the same thing with the one in Seaside Park, New Jersey they -- one of the device went off, the other two did not. And so the makeup of that is being analyzed by the FBI, want to see what similarities there are between all three of these devices and then they'll be able to build from there.


TAPPER: Let's talk about the Minnesota attack because ISIS' media arm claiming responsibility saying that this individual was a soldier of the Islamic state, was an ISIS terrorist. What more do we know about this?

PEREZ: Well, I think what the FBI has at this point is there's no reason to doubt what the ISIS media people say, and the language they use, which is a soldier of the Islamic state, is the typical language they use for people who are inspired. In other words they're not directed. This is the language they use when their -- when these people who may have sent some kind of message right before they carried out their attack. They might have posted something somewhere saying, I'm doing this in the name of, and then they go out and do their thing.

It appears to be that would be the case. Again, there's tons of these people out there who could be inspired to act without, you know, anyone knowing anything about it before hand.

TAPPER: It seems hard to believe that all three incidents happening on the same day would be just a coincidence.

PEREZ: Right, exactly. But you know what? This is what ISIS has been just frankly prodding its members to do or its supporters to do. If you're in the west, especially now that they're losing territory and it's harder and harder for them to get people to -- their recruits to get there, go out and do this.

Almost weekly you see those messages out there. And people who are consuming this stuff on the internet this is what they're looking for. They see one thing go off, it's almost like a call for them to go out and do something at the same time.

TAPPER: Interesting. So maybe the first one created a temptation for the other.

PEREZ: Very much -- very much -- very much the modus operandi (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: Very interesting. Evan Perez, thank you so much.

Let's bring in our experts right now. We have with us Juliette Kayyem, who is a CNN national security analyst and a former assistant secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. Also with me here in studio Tom Fuentes, is a CNN senior national security analyst and former FBI assistant director. We also have with us former CIA operative Bob Baer who was with the CIA obviously and is a CNN intelligence and security analyst.

And, Bob, let me -- let me just start with you. Do you think, I mean, we don't know anything, but is it likely that these three incident all happening the same day would be related even if just the first one inspired the other two to act?

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Jake, it's a little too many coincidences for me. I mean, you know, you have New Jersey later that night, New York, two bombs, and then Minnesota. There could be some call out there by the Islamic state, but in the New York bombing, the pressure cooker, there has been no claim. These things are easy to make. It could be anything from a psychopath to a domestic group. And we just don't know.

The important thing is that that device they recovered is check the wiring, and that will tell us a lot. It will link us to the Boston bombings in 2013 or maybe not. So we really have to wait for the forensics whether you can even begin to call this international terrorism or simply domestic.

TAPPER: And, Juliette Kayyem, Evan Perez saying that ISIS using the language, a soldier of the Islamic state, suggests that this individual who carried out these horrific stabbings in Minnesota yesterday was inspired by ISIS but not necessarily trained or sent by ISIS.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. And that's -- that's the more typical sort of incident these days.

Actually, we tend to talk about ISIS directed and ISIS inspired. We actually are beginning to see a third wave. I call it ISIS justified. There are people who have no connect with ISIS but after the fact or at the last moment they say, I'm a member of ISIS or, you know, I support ISIS and then do something violent and attack.

I have to say because Minnesota said this guy was on some sort of radar screen, they were possibly monitoring him as potentially ISIS inspired but no evidence of ISIS directed, this is the common sort of M.O. of both ISIS but those who are following them online and then do, you know, serious injury to others.

TAPPER: And Tom Fuentes, as a former FBI top official, tell us what you think is going on right there -- right now at the FBI in terms of their concern. Three attacks. Thankfully as of now no fatalities of innocent people, but this has got to be a concern.

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It is, Jake. And besides the regular investigation, the forensics and the device that is will be conducted at Quantico, the other examination is going to be extensive on social media. Did a call go out?

Paul Cruickshank, CNN terrorism analyst, reminded me this morning that yesterday was the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. constitution. So maybe there's messages that went out by ISIS calling for an attack yesterday of anybody out there that was listening. So it's possible that that's the coincidence. That's what led people even if it's not the same individual or group of individuals to do these attacks on the same day.

TAPPER: And, Bob Baer, what is the likelihood do you think that there is evidence on any of the three remaining devices that did not go off, the two in New Jersey, the one in New York, that would allow law enforcements and counterterrorism officials to be able to figure out who did this even without any defend surveillance video?


BAER: Oh, Jake, I think so for sure. Once it's in the hands of the FBI -- they are experts. They know what they're doing. They'll be able to tell us whether this was taken off the internet or actually there's something about the device that would suggest -- a signature, as it's called, suggests a group.

And I think we're going to get our best information right now from that analysis and, you know, connected anywhere else from, you know, pressure cookers in Stockholm to Paris and the rest of them, what bombs didn't go off. So that's going to be key to this investigation.

TAPPER: And what -- Juliette Kayyem, what can be done if these three incidents were all individuals who were ISIS inspired? That is to say, individuals that had never really communicated with any terrorist organizations, individuals who had never traveled abroad. If they are just home grown terrorists acting alone taking information off the internet, what more can be done to prevent that type of attack?

KAYYEM: Yes. That's the challenge that we are confronting overall not just in what happened in the last 24 hours. So there's -- there's two pieces to it.

One is in almost all these cases someone knows. So this is what we call encountering violent extremism, working with communities that may know these individuals to determine whether they know anything and making -- having them feel comfortable coming to law enforcement. And then there's another piece which is just access to bomb making material, guns, whatever is being used by those who are performing this kind of violence. So you want to get the ideology and the means simultaneously.

But as you know, no security apparatus -- I can't say this enough, no security apparatus is going to be able to stop the next 22-year-old guy or whoever it is getting radicalized, getting, you know, weapons, and going to any number of soft targets. Look at the difference between Chelsea and the suburban shopping mall in Minnesota. So that's the challenge that we confront overall. And I have to say again we don't know what each of these incidents are over the last 24 hours.

TAPPER: And, Tom Fuentes, the pressure cooker bombs that were built to kill the three individual -- the three innocent people at the Boston marathon bombing in 2013, were said to -- the instructions were said to have come from one of these ISIS affiliated publications online.

FUENTES: It's (ph) actually (ph) al Qaeda.

TAPPER: Was it an al Qaeda publication? Wasn't (ph) it --

FUENTES: Arabian Peninsula "Inspire" magazine, an article they put out called "Making a bomb in the kitchen of your mom."

TAPPER: And that is the one that the Tsarnaev brothers used?

FUENTES: Right. That's before al Qaeda -- before ISIS even existed.

TAPPER: OK. So, I guess, my -- but the question I want to ask though is what can be done about that kind of information out there on the internet? Obviously you can't take it down. It just will pop up somewhere else.


TAPPER: Is counterterrorism, is law enforcement -- are they monitoring who is looking at it? Are they watching people along those lines or do you need to get a special warrant for that sort of thing?

FUENTES: Well, there's tens of thousands of these messages going out every day from ISIS right now and before that a certain amount from al Qaeda. It's almost impossible to monitor who is on the receiving end of all of that, who has internet access or access to magazines like that that are still on -- they're still available on the internet even though they were made by al Awlaki in Yemen, you know, so many years ago. They're still out there and they're going to be out there.

So it's very hard and it's hard for the bureau to read the mind of somebody who is looking at that and deciding to go ahead and attempt to put a device like that together. And the components -- this is not a nuclear weapon. These are readily available components you can get in appliance store. You can go online and order a pressure cooker or the wiring, the batteries, the cellphone, everything but the black power. But that's readily available as well if that's what's used. Or chemicals like PETN and other explosive material.

So everything that's needed for this is pretty much readily available or easily manufactured.

TAPPER: And, Bob Baer, that's why this becomes more of an intelligence challenge than a law enforcement challenge precisely because you cannot ban the sale of pressure cookers and many common chemicals.

BAER: Yes, Jake, exactly. But also you don't need a whole lot of training in making one of these things.

They're very easy. They're based on energy buildup inside the pressure cooker. Black powder, flash powder, it doesn't matter. Easy to get. The detonator is easy to make. The cell telephone connection is easy.

The only good news about these bombs is the kill radius is so small that the casualties are very few. If they came in suicide vests with acetone peroxide bombs we'd have real problem. But you need some training and practice with those.

TAPPER: OK. Here comes the press conference in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio, police -- New York Police Department officials. Let's listen in as they brief us on the explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood in New York City last night, 29 people injured from what appeared to be a homemade bomb.


JAMES O'NEILL, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: All right. Good afternoon, everybody. So we're here to give you an update on the investigation of last night's events. With me is John Miller, Ben Tucker, Carlos Gomez, from the FBI, Will (ph) Sweeney, Jim Leonard from the fire department, Joe Esposito from OEM, Dan Nigro from the fire department, and the mayor. The mayor will start it off with some comments.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Thank you very much, commissioner.

You're going to hear after I give some opening comments, you're going to hear from Commissioner O'Neill in detail and then Commissioner Nigro and Will (ph) Sweeney, assistant director of the FBI. I want to thank our federal partners who have been with us from the very beginning of this incident that are working very, very closely with the FBI to determine exactly what happened here.

I was in the affected area this morning talking to residents. Governor Cuomo and I spoke to a number of people who live and work in that area. And I want to say at the outset, I want to commend my fellow New Yorkers who deal with challenges with incredible resiliency, who are strong, who are focused on going about their everyday business, who are not intimidated by anything. That's something we're very proud of here in the city.

I talked to a lot of people, including folks who were in their homes or in their businesses at the moment the explosion occurred last night. They uniformly said it worried them for sure, but they also said it was not going to change anything they were doing today, and I saw people out there going about their business as usual. I also saw an extraordinary response by the NYPD, FDNY, Office of Emergency Management. Folks said to me in the neighborhood how reassured they were by the speedy response last night and by the continued police presence.

They understand there's an ongoing investigation that will take some time. They understand there will be some disruption in that immediate community, but by and large, people are getting back to business as usual. We heard a good report on the MTA, no damage there. That will be up and running soon at that subway stop.

The attitude people took was one of gratitude for our first responders and a sense that they were safe now with the kind of presence that was around them at this point. Now, this was a very serious incident. It's going to take a lot of careful investigation to get to the facts and get to the truth. And one of the things we're going to say to you today is we're going to be very careful and patient to get to the full truth here.

We are not going to jump to conclusions. We're not going to offer you easy answers. We're going to make sure we have all of the facts. We know there was a bombing. That much we do know.

We know it's a very serious incident, but we have a lot more work to do to be able to say what kind of motivation was behind this. Was it a political motivation, a personal motivation. What was it? We do not know that yet. That work must go on. And we're going to give you regular updates as we get more information.

In terms of those who are affected by this incident, 29 individuals were injured. All have been released from the hospital now. You'll hear more from Commissioner Nigro about the response by the FDNY and the status of those individuals. Obviously our thoughts, our prayers are with all of them for a full recovery, but I'm very, very pleased to say they are all out of the hospital.

Now, for all New Yorkers, a central message we want to give today is be vigilant. Be vigilant at this point in time, not just because of this incident. Be vigilant because we're going into United Nations General Assembly week. Be vigilant because the police need your help. And if you see anything that might be pertinent to this case, we need you to call it in.

And you should know you will see a very substantial NYPD presence this week. Bigger than ever. We would normally have an expanded presence for the United Nations General Assembly. You will see an even stronger presence now. New Yorkers always tell me how reassured they are by seeing our officers, including our newer units such as the critical response command and the strategic response group. Seeing them out in force and seeing them at the scene of obviously key public locations around the United Nations, around Times Square, a lot of other places well armed, well trained. This new unit and the capacity that it has are crucial to keeping the city safe. And so you will see a lot of them this week.

That capacity that we've built and Commissioner O'Neill was a crucial part of that effort, the capacity we built over the last two years in response to events we've seen around the world gives us the strongest anti-terror capacity of any city in the country.


And again, we fully in use this week. Now, we know from everything we've seen so far that this was an intentional act. I want to reaffirm what I said last night, but again we do not know the motivation. We do not know the nature of it. That's what we have to do more work on.

The investigatory agencies continue to look to see if there is any specific connection to the incident in New Jersey. At this point we do not have any specific evidence of a connection, but that will continue to be considered. So we're not taking any options off the table. I want to be very clear about that. All possible theories of what's happened here and how it connects will be looked at but we have no specific evidence at this point in time.

Again, we're going to urge all New Yorkers to be patient as we get down to the bottom of what happened here. We want to be accurate. I think the most important thing is to give people clear and accurate picture of what happened and obviously to bring to justice whoever was involved in this incident. And the NYPD is using its full capacity to find anyone who was involved and bring them to justice.

I want to affirm again if you have any information that might link to this incident, video, photos, eyewitness accounts, overheard conversations, anything, please call the NYPD. And the number is 1- 800-577-TIPS, 1-800-577-T-I-P-S.

New Yorkers are always are not intimidated. That's part of who we are. We will go about our business and we will help our police to do the jobs they do and they are the finest in the world. Quickly in Spanish, (speaking in Spanish).

With that I turn back to Commissioner Jimmy O'Neill.

O'NEILL: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

So I'm going to give you an update on last night's incident and what's going on right now. So we have two separate crime scenes. Keep in mind we're in the middle of a very complex post-blast investigation. There are a number of agencies involved. There's, of course, the NYPD, the FBI, the ATF, and the state police, so there are many agencies involved in this complex investigation.

We're still gathering evidence at 23rd Street. And we did find some components indicative of an IED. We are -- we moved the device from 27th Street up to Rodman's Neck last night and the bomb squad is in the process of working on that device right now. So, of course, they're taking their time and want to make sure that we use as much time as necessary to make that determination what that device is -- consists of.

We've recovered video from both scenes and we're continuing to canvass for witness and additional video. And we're looking to speak to anyone in the vicinity of either location last night. So we need people to call 1-800-577-TIPS, as the mayor said. We put that out last night and as New Yorkers usually do, we received numerous phone calls, and each one of those phone calls is being vetted by our detectives.

So right now this is a parallel investigation with the NYPD, the JTTF, and the FBI. And we're always on alert in New York City. And this is a device, as the mayor said, that went off intentionally. If this happened in another city, of course, we'd ramp up our security, and it happened here so we'll ramp up our security even more and Chief Gomez is going to speak about that in a couple minutes.

Now we talked about this over the last two years, how we foiled 20 plots in New York City, and that was done by a very professional, highly trained law enforcement agencies. And this violent criminal act is going to solved by those same people, by that same group of people. So New York -- New York City residents can rest assured that we'll get to the bottom of this.

Right now we're not discounting anything at this point. And gain, we're in the process of a complex investigation to determine who did this and why they did this. Carlos is going to talk about the counterterrorism overlay. There are a lot of things going on in the city today, and we just need people in New York to rest assured that we're going to do our best to protect them. Right now we don't have enough information to make any final conclusion.


As the mayor said, we don't know what -- if there's any political or social motivation, but we did definitely -- we definitely had a bombing last night on 23rd Street and we had a suspicious device on 27th Street. So we're going to move this investigation forward and when we finally make that determination, we'll make sure we let everybody know.

Right now assistant director in-charge from the FBI Bill Sweeney is going to make some comments. Bill?


Good afternoon. The FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force which is made up of over 50 agencies is fully engaged. The investigation is still in the early stages and our thoughts are with the victims and we hope for quick recoveries for all.

The evidence we've collected is being taken to our lab at Quantico for review and we are following every viable lead as we continue to work jointly with the NYPD and the FDNY, and all of our local state and federal partners. I expect evidence collection to continue for at least four to five more hours on the street itself. We have not yet made entry to the -- into the residences in the buildings on that street. We are very grateful for the assistance and the patience of those residents in that neighborhood.

The New York JTTF is also working side by side with the Newark, New Jersey, based JTTF. We will also bring additional resources in as we need them. If anyone has any information, we ask you to use either the NYPD tip line at 1-800-577-TIPS or submit a tip on our website at It is vitally important that we do not inadvertently disclose information that (INAUDIBLE) subjects -- inform the subjects. I think the public understands the need for that level of operational security and for that reason I do not expect to answer specific questions on how much and what we know. Thank you.

O'NEILL: Thanks, Bill. Commissioner Nigro is going to give you an update on those injured last night.

DANIEL NIGRO, NEW YORK CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT COMMISSIONER: Thank you. Last night was an extremely well coordinated response to that attack and our members -- the fire department was able to identify, treat and transport 29 people quickly. I'm happy to say that as of this morning, all 29 injured people have been released from the hospital and that's very good news.

The fire department along with the building department also examined the buildings that were damaged in the explosion and found them to be structurally stable. There was no structural damage. And again, that's good news. You will hear a little from Chief Gomez about how the police department is prepared moving and the fire department is certainly as prepared. Chief Leonard and I coordinated our people on the ground to support that effort. So that's the news from the fire department.

Thanks, commissioner Nigro. Chief Gomez now will give you an update on what's going on throughout the city right. Carlos.

CHIEF CARLOS GOMEZ, NYPD CHIEF OF DEPARTMENT: Well, good afternoon. Today there are several special events occurring throughout the city. Actually in all five boroughs. We've increased our police presence in each of these events. We've added more officers to it. We've also added more counterterrorism officers as well as heavy weapons teams at some of these events. Teams from the strategic response group as well as the critical response command.

Commuters in our transit system will be greeted by more officers also. We'll be doing enhanced bag checks throughout the city. Not just in the major hubs. We're picking random stations throughout the city. There will be more K-9s in the transit system, and we are coordinating with our partners at the MTA as well as the port authority. And heavy weapons team will also be assigned to our transit hubs and certain stations.

As for traffic, 23rd Street and 27th Street obviously remain closed. We're processing the crime scene. Sixth Avenue remains close right now from 14th Street all the way up to 27th Street, so please avoid that area. We'll try to clear it up as soon as we can. Thank you.

O'NEILL: All right.

Just before we take some questions, I just want to thank all the members of law enforcement that responded to the scene last night, and I specifically want to thank the men and women from the New York City Police Department Bomb Squad, who safely removed that device from 27th Street and transported it up to Rodman's Neck and are right now working on determining what that actually consists of. So would like to thank the men and women of the bomb squad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I (ph) have (ph) some questions (INAUDIBLE).

O'NEILL: Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner, is there any known (INAUDIBLE)?

O'NEILL: And of course, we took a good look at that. At this point there's -- we haven't made the determination if there's any significance to either location. Lisa?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anyone call to claim responsibility for the bombing (INAUDIBLE) Street?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any -- O'NEILL: At least at this point no individual or group has called to claim responsibility. Yes (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Commissioner, we've learned that there was a bulletin that went out September 14th warning of the increased extremist activity to New York and some other cities.

Is that true? And what response was there?

O'NEILL: You know, New York City is always in a state of alert based on us being the number one target in the world. So that's why we ramped up the issue. That's why we have Hercules teams, that's why we have SRG and that's why we have CRC. So we are always in a state of readiness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: A follow up. One thing with Seaside Park yesterday, something that you said you were monitoring closely.

What specifically does that mean?

O'NEILL: It means we're trying to determine if there's a connection. At this point, we have not made that determination. Now there was a blast in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and there's one in New York City later on. So we, you know, we can't ignore that fact. So during the course of our investigation we have to see if there is a connection. At this point, there doesn't appear to be one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The device on 27th Street, did it contain any explosive or was it just a pressure cooker?

O'NEILL: That's what the bomb squad is very carefully working on right now. And we want to be able to take that apart to see what exactly it consists of.

Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Mayor De Blasio, when you toured the site earlier in Chelsea, what did you see? Who did you talk to? Can you go into a little detail about it?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: Yes, very quickly. I talked to a number of community residents, a number of folks who were in their homes last night when the blast occurred. A lot of folks who work in the area were coming in this morning.

And I think the response, I talked to a few dozen people, the response was very, very similar. Of course, it was unsettling when the blast occurred, but people didn't know what it was so they continued going about their business until they knew more. Tremendous appreciation for the response by the first responders.

Since this morning that they needed to go on about their lives and they knew there was very, very strong police presence in the neighborhood. And several people said to me that, you know, they didn't doubt today that they would go about their lives and their business.

One woman came in from Queens to go to a church nearby. I said, did you hesitate? Did you think maybe you shouldn't go to the church? She said, no. She said for one thing, God is with me and for another thing, as a New Yorker, I'm of course going to keep going.

Another guy in Starbucks we were in came down from Washington Heights to his job. I said did you wonder if your job would be open. Do you wonder you shouldn't go? He said, no, I knew I should go and I knew it would be open.

So I think there's a sense of resiliency and a real faith that the NYPD is addressing the situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: For the assistant director, in terms of (INAUDIBLE)

WILLIAMS SWEENEY, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: We will look at everything. We'll look at motivations. We'll look at individuals. We'll look at associations. We'll look at social networks. We'll look at all the incoming tips and leads. All -- everything that comes in gets a look. We don't discard anything. We take everything into account. And we move from there. It's that simple.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Commissioner, on July 3rd of this year, we had an explosion at Central Park, obviously we have what happened last night and a suspicious package on the 27th Street.

Sir, have you found any commonality between any of those events, or those devices specifically and any commonality between 23rd Street and the suspicious package --

O'NEILL: Garlett (ph) let me let Chief Boyce discuss that. He's got that July 3rd investigation.

ROBERT BOYCE, NYPD CHIEF OF DETECTIVES: Good afternoon. Right now, the Central Park issue from July doesn't appear to be related to this at all. It's two different issues from what we can see.

We're not prepared right now to say that the 23rd and 27th street, because we don't have everything in. Think of a jigsaw puzzle of evidence out on the street right now. That's where we are. We have to assemble that and analyze that compared to the 27th.

Do we think they're related? Yes, we have to. We have to move in that direction. But right now we're not ready to make these calls yet. The bomb squad right now is up at their headquarters analyzing that. That could take next couple of hours. We want to do so intelligently and move forward. Right now that evidence for us could be crucial to our case.

DE BLASIO: And no connection to Central Park?

BOYCE: There's no -- I'll keep saying this. There's no connection to Central Park at all at this point. UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: How can we say -- how can you say that there's no link in Paris, and when the "Inspire" magazine published instructions on how to build one of these pressure cooker bombs (INAUDIBLE)

DE BLASIO: Again, the job for all of us and led here by the JTTF and we particularly are listening to the judgment of our colleagues in the FBI is to analyze the facts, understand what motivation existed and why this was done and how this was done. Until we have that information, it is not fair for us to give the public a conclusion. Let the law enforcement experts draw the conclusions.


[12:35:10] UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) said this morning that this was an act of terrorism. Can you counteract that news?

DE BLASIO: Again, let the law enforcement experts draw the conclusions. I've just -- this is the standard that we use here, and I think it's the right way to go. Again, that's all I can say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Commissioner, how concerned are you that (INAUDIBLE). You mentioned subjects several times in your remarks. Are there multiple people, do you believe, involved?

O'NEILL: So, look, let me address the younger issue and everything else that's going on in New York City. Unger (ph), we've been, as an agency, this is what we're doing. We do it very well. We've been doing this for years.

So we took a look at our coverage, our detail for the week, for the weeks, and we're satisfied we are where we need to be.

It's a -- I am concerned. We did have a bomb that was detonated on 23rd Street and we have no one apprehended so, of course, I'm concerned. But I know working with our federal partners and ATF, FBI, state police, NYPD, I know we're going to find out who did this and they'll be brought to justice.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Commissioner, different police are doing specifically because of where these devices were found?

O'NEILL: Well, it's not only what the police are doing and, you know, we put out a message last night that went to everybody's smartphone. It's about the public, too. And we've talked about this every time I'm at the podium.

If you see something out there that makes you feel uncomfortable, that looks unusual, you have to take that step to make sure somebody knows, and we can respond and we can fully investigate it. And that's how we're going to keep the city safe.

It's not just the police department. It's everybody that lives, work, and visits New York City. UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: How did you -- how did police find the second device? Was it reported to you by a passer-by? Did an officer come upon it?

And then for the mayor, when are you prepared to use the word "terror?" By a dictionary definition, whatever the motivation is, this was an act that harmed people with bombings (INAUDIBLE)

O'NEILL: We had two very dedicated former NYPD state troopers who responded to the initial job last night. And anytime we have a suspicious package, especially when it's detonated, we do a search for secondaries. And the state troopers took part in that search. They went down 27th Street in a vehicle. They circled the block. They parked their vehicle and actually walked down the block and that's how they found it. They did a great job.

DE BLASIO: So just to finish to David's question -- so here is what we know. It was intentional. It was a violent act. It was certainly a criminal act. It was a bombing. That's what we know.

To understand any specific motivation, political motivations, any connection to an organization, that's what we don't know. So I think it's important to say what we know and what we don't know. It could have been something personally motivated. We don't know yet.

We will keep the public informed every step of the way as we get actual real evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: If this was an intentional act, what's the intention?

DE BLASIO: That's what we don't know. That's what we want to find out. We only know it was organized. We know it was organized in the sense of some individual put it there.

Originally, remember, we had the question, could it be a gas leak? Could it be some other kind of accident? Obviously, last night, we were able to tell you it was not an accident. It was intentional.

And I understand, obviously, everyone's desire to have as much detail as possible at this moment. But, again, we are devoted, all of the agencies in New York City, with our federal partners, to getting you facts that are confirmed. When we have those confirmed facts, we're going to give them to you right away.


Quickly, we've covered it. We've covered it. We've covered it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Yesterday you said there was a video (INAUDIBLE)

DE BLASIO: The commissioner will handle that.

O'NEILL: So as far as video recovered, I did view a video last night of the blast. We are canvassing for additional video to see who might have been walking down to either street before the blast. So we're in the process of doing that last night. And the video I saw last night was one of the detonations. It's the same thing that the cops from the 10th precinct saw when they were in their R&P about a block away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Can you speak a little bit about the material that was used in the IED?

O'NEILL: I'm not going to give you specifics about that. We're still in the process of going through that crime scene so we're not done with that yet.

[12:40:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What about the challenge here, because two states, two explosions in places where people throwaway trash. One thing to see a bag left alone at a station. It's another thing, doesn't arouse much suspicion when someone puts something in the garbage.

O'NEILL: I can speak about the New York City incident. And there were dumpsters there. And dumpsters are a part of life in New York City. There's major rehabilitation to that building on 23rd Street. So, unfortunately, that's -- there's so much construction in New York City. There are dumpsters all throughout the city.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: There was a note found in the pressure cooker?

O'NEILL: I'm not going to discuss what was found on 27th street.


O'NEILL: Yes, we're in the process of investigating that right now. We can't say with 100 percent degree of certainty where the blast originated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Commissioner, are you investigating (INAUDIBLE)

O'NEILL: We have the 1-800-577-TIPS. Each one of those tips is being vetted. So every lead that we get is going to be vetted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Specifically this posting by someone who --

O'NEILL: Yes, I don't want to get into that specifically yet. This is an ongoing investigation. So, we're just --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Not to belabor the point about it, but the police department seemed in a posture that would expect an act of terrorist attack. Your agency is going out everywhere.

Do we risk by not calling this spade a spade here, giving people the false sense of security after --

O'NEILL: Hey, David, we are acknowledging that there was a bomb blast on 23rd Street last night, and we are in the process of investigating that. You know, that and the device that was found on 27th street. And during this course, during the course of the investigation, and we are going to determine what the motivation is at some point, we'll say it loud and clear. And if it is an act of terrorism, we're going to come out and say it.

DE BLASIO: That's right. And one other point, New Yorkers are very smart and very practical. They're going to see a very substantial police presence, well-armed, well-trained, critical response groups, strategic response group -- critical response team, strategic response group.

You will see a lot of police presence. You will see it in the subway. You will see it at major events. You will see it at major crossroads of this city. Well-armed police officers.

People are smart enough to figure out to be vigilant and to call in anything they know. But, again, we will give you the facts as we get the facts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Sir, why was the emergency alert system was used last night? How would you say the execution went?

O'NEILL: It came over my phone. I have two cell phones. And I got it -- when they asked people to stay away from the windows and get to the rear of the building, we had to evacuate in place on 27th Street. And then when the containment vehicle left the scene, that was broadcast, too. And, you know, I think it was very effective. It helped keep us safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Would you use it again in the future incidents?

O'NEILL: We're going to use whatever technology is available to keep the people of the city safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Commissioner, what is the follow-up on the question (INAUDIBLE). Did you see a person in that video that (INAUDIBLE)

O'NEILL: Yes, what saw was -- I saw the blast and I saw vehicles leaving the scene and I saw people running up the street. So we're in the process of looking at that now.


Hold on one second. Chief Boyce is going to answer that.

BOYCE: Just to follow-up on your question on surveillance tape. So the key is to get there before the blast and take a look at that. And that's what we're doing this morning.

Now you got to remember, a lot of the businesses are closed, but their cameras are still active. So we can get in there. So we'll spend the next couple days probably seeing who was on both blocks prior to the explosions.

The explosion is for the bomb squad. For our detectives and intelligence bureau as well as the detective bureau and the FBI, we want to see who was on that street prior. That's where we are right now.

You know, our evidence, and you've got to remember, it's a warm Saturday evening in Manhattan. There's a lot of people out on the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, everyone.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. That was New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill, and others from the fire department and law enforcement community in New York talking about the explosion in Chelsea, which the Police Commissioner O'Neill officially labeled, a bombing.

He said there was a bombing on 23rd Street and a device on 27th Street. Good news in that all 29 people who were wounded in the attack have been released from the hospital they announced.

They also previewed that there will be a very substantial police presence in New York over the next week in addition to jitters over what happened last night.

The United Nations General Assembly will be taking place this week, and so that substantial law enforcement presence will be even more so substantial than it would have been. They didn't seem to have many leads. They asked for any tips from anyone in the public to dial 1- 800-577-TIPS. 1-800-577-TIPS for any information about last night's attack.

[12:45:13] Let's talk more with our panel about what we just learned and what we just heard at this press briefing. And, Tom Fuentes, let me start with you.

They were very cautious not to get ahead of where the information was. They said they don't know of any connection with what happened in New Jersey. How can they not -- they were questioned many times, how could they not call this terrorism? How could they say there was no connection to terrorism? And they said we don't have that evidence. If we do get that evidence, then we will call it terrorism.

TOM FUENTES, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, they have their own definition apparently of terrorism that they have to know who did it and why they did it before they can call it that. But in all these major attacks that we've had, we've had the officials call terrorist events terrorism before they knew that.

Boston, the commissioner of police said it was terrorism the very first day when he said we've had two bombs. People are dead. People are injured. It's terrorism, therefore the FBI will take the lead. It was four days before we knew about the Tsarnaev brothers.

So I think if they want to define it that way, that's fine. And, you know, it's not a big deal because everybody is working diligently together and that's the main thing.

TAPPER: And Juliette Kayyem, they were asked if there was any significance to the location where these devices were planted, and where one of them, unfortunately, went off. They said they don't know. They also said they had no information about anyone claiming responsibility.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. So those are pieces of evidence. Last night, we were talking and on air, Chelsea is a very vibrant community. And in the wake of Orlando, it is also a well-known gay community. So if you're in New York Police Department, you're going to be looking at all these leads to determine motivation.

So as Tom was saying, terrorism as a common sense definition, of course that's what we're looking at. It elicited terror in a city. Terror as a legal investigative definition, we don't know yet because we don't know the motivation.

The most fascinating thing about that press conference and it makes me really unhappy is the extent to which they were really trying to back off of what Andrew Cuomo was saying earlier.

There was no state officials up there. Look, people are nervous. They want to see unity of effort. And whatever Cuomo said earlier that they're trying to sort of back away from, you know, the American public and New Yorkers in particular want a unified front. And I think the police department is just trying to say, look, there's a reason why we're going to let the facts drive the investigation.

You can call it, you know, whatever you want. We want the facts to drive the investigation.

TAPPER: And Bob Baer, Governor Cuomo earlier said that if a bomb goes off and it injures people, it's by definition terrorism. The police commissioner, and we should remind people, this is only his second day on the job, the police commissioner did say that he was concerned about safety and security in New York City.

He said a bomb was detonated and no one has been apprehended. And that was perhaps the most chilling part of the entire press conference.

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE & SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. I don't think they have any leads. They're still crawling through the metadata. That's very important. See if anybody was using a cell phone connected to the New Jersey attack, even Minnesota. We don't know that yet. It will take them some time.

You know, symbolically, New York is an important target. It's the best protected, you know, city in the United States. We have 9/11, of course. That suggests political motivations. But, again, we could be dealing with a domestic group trying to imitate, you know, international terrorists or simply a psychopath.

But what bothers me are two devices. One device you can dismiss. Two devices, suggests something more organized. TAPPER: Why is two devices more organized than one device. Could it not just be one person that built two things, put one there, put one there and then left?

BAER: Well, it suggests a military tactic. Everything in the military is done by twos, two shooters, two bombs, you know, two guys entering a room and the rest of it. And this people try to mimic military tactics. This is -- you know, we're reaching here for an explanation, but then again so are the New York police and the FBI.

And, Tom, you seemed concern a bit that the word terrorism wasn't used. Do you think that -- I don't know what you would attribute that to, not wanting to get ahead of the evidence, not wanting to get of -- you know, quote, unquote, "political correctness?"

Do you think that refusing to use that word, though, will affect the investigation in any way?

FUENTES: No. What they call it will not affect it. As I mentioned, the agencies will be working diligently together. That's going to happen either way.

But when the statements are coming out of political officials, they're going to have political motivation of what they call an event. And in this case, when you have leaders from 200 countries in the world arriving in New York City right now to attend the opening of the U.N. tomorrow, they're not going to want to announce, hey, we've just had a terrorist event. You're all going to be in danger by coming here. So they're going to try to minimize this.

But it's going to be pretty hard to minimize it when two dozen people go to the hospital. Fortunately, none were killed, but you still had mass causalities and a very difficult situation.

[12:50:13] And a second device found as Bob mentioned. So, you know, what you call it, you're going to get into the rhetoric. I don't think it's that important in that sense as far as the investigation. But as far as what the officials are doing to solve this case, the FBI, NYPD, ATF, the other agencies, of course, they're going to be working side by side, hand-in-hand very closely together.

TAPPER: They have to figure out who did this and that's obviously to come in this horrific story that could have been worse.

Again, all 29 individuals injured in that bombing in Manhattan yesterday, had been released from the hospital. That bombing nearly overshadowed another attack halfway across the country in St. Cloud, Minnesota where a man dressed in a security uniform stabbed eight people at the Crossroads Mall.

A statement posted online today by a media wing of the terrorist group ISIS claims that the attacker was, quote, "A soldier of the Islamic State."

Witnesses say that the man mentioned, "Allah" and asked some of his victims if they were Muslim before he stabbed them. An off-duty police officer killed the man who police say had previous encounters with police. Most of them minor traffic violations. Seven of the wounded have been treated and released. One remains hospitalized.

I'm joined now by the police chief of St. Cloud, William Blair Anderson, who joins me to talk more about this horrific incident.

Thank you so much for being here, chief. Appreciate it.


TAPPER: So the Associated Express is reporting this morning that an ISIS-linked news agency is claiming that the Minnesota mall stabber was, quote, "A soldier of the Islamic State."

Last night you declined to call the attacks an act of terrorism.

What do you now believe in light of this new information?

ANDERSON: We still don't have anything substantive that would suggest anything more than what we know already, which is this was a lone attacker. And right now, we're trying to get to the bottom of what his motivations were.

As you would imagine, there are many moving parts. And I'm due for a briefing here in not too long from now so that I can find out what our investigators have been able to glean about this individual.

TAPPER: As of now, what do you know about reports that the individual mentioned Allah and asked his would-be victims if they were Muslim before he stabbed them?

ANDERSON: I can tell you what I told our local media last evening. And I got the information from one of my investigators who spoke with a witness, that the individual, the attacker himself, did ask some of the people if they were Muslim before they were attacked.

TAPPER: And all but one have been released from the hospital.

How is that individual doing the one who is still in the hospital and how severe are these wounds?

ANDERSON: As of last night, none of the injuries were life- threatening. I suspect that I will get a status update in the briefing that I'm going to attend here in very few minutes.

And if there is any good news in a situation like this, it's that. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims. And, you know, the response by our agency and our neighbors and our local, state and federal partners were swift. And I'm confident that that prevented this from being much worse.

TAPPER: Local reports say authorities are searching two apartment units right now in St. Cloud.

Is there anything you can tell us about that? ANDERSON: Again, I suspect I'll get a briefing on that when I go upstairs. But right now, there is nothing alarming or else I would have heard by now. But I'm anxious to get upstairs and see exactly what they have been able to discover so that we can say definitively one way or another what this is or isn't.

TAPPER: As far as you know, is there any connection between the stabbings that took place in Minnesota and what we saw in New Jersey and New York Yesterday. And does it raise your suspicions that there would be three potential terrorist attacks all the same day in the United States?

ANDERSON: Well, it's certainly ironic. But again, right now, we don't have any evidence to suggest that they were connected in any way. And I'm hopeful that once we're able to figure out what the motivation was for our attacker here, we'll be able to say again definitively what if any connection there might be.

TAPPER: Based on the information that you have collected, tell us what transpired last night at the Crossroads Mall?

[12:55:00] ANDERSON: About 8:00 p.m. last night, one individual went into our mall armed with a knife and stabbed eight or nine people. And the reason I say eight or nine, we reported eight yesterday but we found out this morning they were still trying to confirm that one victim transported themselves to a hospital outside of our city. That attacker was confronted by an off duty police officer, shot and killed.

TAPPER: And what do we know about the perpetrator that you can tell us right now? He was apparently wearing a private security uniform. Did he work in security? And we're told that law enforcement was aware of him. Was he under any sort of surveillance?

ANDERSON: He wasn't under any surveillance by our agency. We've had several contacts with him mostly for minor traffic violations. We do know that he was wearing a private security uniform and we're in the process right now of trying to figure out if he in fact worked for a private security company, or if he worked for one previously.

But again, hopefully, all of those things will become much clearer after I'm able to talk with our investigators.

TAPPER: You say he was known to law enforcement mainly for small traffic violations, but that suggests that you maybe knew him for something else in addition?

ANDERSON: No, there is no evidence that there was any other contacts with our agency and that individual.

TAPPER: And you also said yesterday, tomorrow St. Cloud will not be the same anymore.

What do you mean by that? How do you think St. Cloud is going to change?

ANDERSON: Whenever something as awful as this happens, it's hard for things to be the same as they were.

I will tell you this. There are a lot of decent, hard-working and resilient people in St. Cloud. And so I can tell what is more likely to happen than not, and that is all of the wonderful partnerships and relationships and cohesion that we share as a community will be strengthened by this.

It will not deteriorate as a result of this. But certainly things are different today here in St. Cloud than they were yesterday. I wasn't on CNN talking with you yesterday.

TAPPER: All right. Chief, we really appreciate your time. Thank you so much

God bless to you. Good luck and good luck to the people of St. Cloud.

ANDERSON: All right. Thank you.

TAPPER: So, Bob Baer, we just heard there the police chief of St. Cloud saying that it may be nine individuals who were stabbed and not eight at the St. Cloud mall stabbing incident.

ISIS claiming responsibility saying that the individual in question was a soldier of the Islamic State, what we would call a terrorist.

What struck you from the police chief's interview this time?

BAER: Well, the fact that he was wearing a uniform. He's mimicking the attacks in Israel, in the West Bank, in Tel Aviv.

When these people don't have weapons, they resort to knives. The whole idea is to terrorize us, Jake. It's not necessarily maximum casualties. And if they can pull off simultaneous attacks in the United States, that's very important.

What's really interesting is the New York attacks were not claimed. I mean, this would be the time do it if you were the Islamic State, or the New Jersey one as well.

So this is going to be a big question for law enforcement. Why they weren't claimed. What is the connection? But really, you know, three attacks in less than 24 hours, makes you wonder.

TAPPER: And also we should note, and I hope we learn more about the hero of this incident in Minnesota, the off duty police officer, who using his gun and apparently he had a concealed weapons permit, killed this would-be terrorist before he could actually do serious harm. No life threatening casualties. That was one bit of good news from an otherwise horrific story, Bob Baer.

BAER: Yes, it was fortuitous because this man probably would have done -- killed some people had not that officer been there and been carrying a weapon. That's the idea. Or behead them.

This has been, you know, all around the world this has occurred and this is probably what was going to occur in Minnesota. And so we were lucky. We're very lucky there was a police officer there and that there were only superficial wounds.

TAPPER: You know, quite a remarkable thing. And what a day when you think about on Saturday, three terrorist attacks in the United States.

A bombing in New York City, 29 people injured, all of them released from the hospital, thankfully.

A knife attack in Minnesota, nine people, up to nine people wounded. Thankfully, no life threatening wounds.

And then an attempted bombing in New Jersey. Nobody hurt there.

Thank you for watching CNN. Stay with CNN for the latest.

Fredricka Whitfield is going to pick up our live coverage of this tumultuous day right now.