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Explosions at Boston Marathon; "Boston Globe": 100+ Hurt In Bombings

Aired April 15, 2013 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks very much.

We're following the breaking news -- important breaking news out of Boston. A pair of bombings rocked the finish line at the historic Boston Marathon just a couple hours or so ago. At least two people are dead in the explosions. At least 28 are being treated for injuries, a number of them critical injuries.

And we've just learned of yet a third bombing, this one at Boston's JFK Library. That's some distance away.

The bomb blasts came only seconds apart, four hours into the race, as the steady stream of runners approached the finish line. You can see one explosion ripping through the crowd at the finish line, sending up a thick cloud of smoke.

Then, if you look closely, you can see a simultaneous explosion sending up smoke about a block away.

Boston's police commissioner says a third explosion has taken place at the JFK Library, this within the past hour. We don't know the extent of that explosion. We don't know the extent of injuries at the JFK Library.

A state government official says there were no credible threats before the race, at least none known yet.

Security has been stepped up in Boston and several other major cities, including New York City and Washington. All of this out of an abundance of caution.

We're deploying all of CNN's resources to bring you full team coverage of what's going on, a very important development on this day this Boston.

CNN executive producer, Matt Frucci, was on the scene at the time of the explosions. He was watching his brother run, participate in this marathon -- and tell our viewers, Matt, what you saw, what you heard.

MATT FRUCCI, CNN PRODUCER: Sure. It was right near the finish line, maybe a mile, even less, to it. As I said before, the lines -- the crowds were packed. There were thousands on either side, hundreds of them running down the middle, all the runners, heading toward the finish line. And that's when I heard a big explosion about 100 yards away from me, looked to my right and saw, about 100 yards up, a big plume of white-gray smoke. It was going up about two or three stories high.

People were shocked. We didn't quite know what to do at that point. And about 10 seconds later, right across the street from me, about 20 yards away, another explosion. It didn't seem as big as the last one, but it was still pretty big and booming. And that's when everyone started to panic and scramble away.

BLITZER: And you heard...

FRUCCI: I was sort of forced back...

BLITZER: -- you heard people screaming, is that accurate, Matt?

FRUCCI: People were screaming and people were fleeing. It was definitely panic. People just wanted to get away from that. Some of us got pushed into the building behind us and others just started to go off onto side streets. I think I was able to collect my parents finally and work our way through a building into the back. And then we were able to view, from one of the windows, through a corridor that overlooked Boylston Street. We were able to see paramedics or police just sort of helping people.

And I saw that first explosion, the second explosion, rather (AUDIO GAP) -- I saw about six to seven people probably piled around that general area. And then afterwards, I saw people in the street being treated separately by paramedics.

BLITZER: We are now being told that two people -- at least two people dead, according to local authorities, 46 people injured, according to hospital authorities in the Boston area -- 46 people injured, some of them critically injured, according to these authorities at local hospitals in Boston.

What's it like now, Matt?

You're still not far away.

FRUCCI: No. Now it's sort of a matter of people just trying to find their loved ones. I had -- my other brother and his family, his three kids, were on the other side of the street. It took us a while to be able to connect with them over the phone. We finally were able to about 45 minutes, an hour afterwards. They were close to that first explosion when my brother heard it. One of the young kids, probably only about -- he's five, asked, what was that?

My brother said it was a bomb. They turned around and started getting out of the way. So they're OK. We're now trying to find my brother who was running. They stopped all of the runners and they're now bringing them to Kenmore Square, where they're being bussed to Boston Commons. So we're trying to link up with him now.

BLITZER: Have you spoken to your brother yet? FRUCCI: We haven't had a chance to speak with him. His wife, who is with me here, has. Obviously, there's a lot of confusion for those runners who weren't near the front, that didn't know what happened and in some small way, a little bit of disappointment, as well, as they sort of got stopped from doing something they trained a long time for. But, obviously, that's a small concern at this point.

BLITZER: And people don't necessarily realize, what, nearly 27,000 people participate in the Boston Marathon, at least this year. That's a lot of people. The winners had already gone ahead of the finish line. But thousands and thousands of people were still running. And they obviously immediately canceled the rest of the marathon, isn't that right, Matt?

FRUCCI: Exactly. I would say about half of the runners had already gone through. So there were still thousands left to go who just sort of got stopped dead in their tracks.

BLITZER: And that's what happened.

Matt Frucci is going to stay on the scene for us, our CNN executive producer, who happened to be watching the Boston Marathon, because his brother was participating.

Tom Fuentes is here, a former CNN -- a former FBI assistant director, a CNN contributor right now.

What does it look like to you -- and I don't want to overly speculate, Tom, because, as you know, early reports are often wrong. We could be way off base. But clearly, they are saying that this was an explosive device, this was an improvised explosive device -- in other words, a bomb.

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Right, Wolf. And I think -- I think right now of interest is that no one has claimed credit for this. So that still leaves it wide open.

Could it be a jihadist group, an international terrorist group?

Unfortunately, we have an abundance of domestic terrorist groups in this country, from white supremacists -- we've heard so much about the Aryan Brotherhood over the last few weeks and other groups like that, environmental, animal (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: So that, potentially, a lot of suspects out there...

FUENTES: Well...

BLITZER: -- but we have no direct information. No one has yet claimed responsibility. Law enforcement isn't speculating. So I don't want to overly speculate, but hold on for a moment, because Peter Hamby, one of our CNN reporters, is over at the Westin Hotel in Boston -- what have you seen, Peter?

What's going on?


Yes, I'm standing, actually, right at the front of the Westin, which looks out on Copley Square. And I'm looking at the medical tent here. There's not much to see. And, of course these medical tents are at marathons anyway for injuries that happen during the race.

But I see, gosh, seven or eight ambulances right here. There just police in yellow vests as far as you can see walking around downtown Boston. They are slowly but surely closing down certain streets. There's no traffic other than official vehicles walking around.

But people are just sort of wandering around haphazardly. Media are starting to gather right here at the Westin.

And you see a lot of people in the hotel bar just drinking beers, you know, after the race and watch -- catching up, watching CNN, watching the local news channel and kind of going in this direction and that.

There's not -- not exactly people fleeing downtown. People are very much, you know, around downtown, pedestrian traffic, you know, just a few blocks away seems kind of normal. I saw some people just a few blocks away sitting outside in the sun, eating pizza and drinking beer. You know, there's some inebriated Red Sox fans walking around. But you also see a lot of, you know, clearly stricken faces. I've seen a lot of people crying and, you know, people are still just trying to figure out what's going on, looking at their cell phones, trying to make calls.

There's a lot of disconnected cell phone service going on right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And we're now told that the number of injured has gone up to 49. At least 49 people are now believed to have been injured in these bombings, two of them near the marathon, a third being at JFK Library in the Boston area, as well. Two -- at least two individuals are dead, 49 hurt, many of them seriously hurt, some of them critically injured in emergency rooms right now.

Chad Wells is an eyewitness who -- whose wife was running the marathon.

He's joining us on the phone right now.

Where were you when these bombings occurred, Chad?

I don't think we have Chad.

We're going to reconnect with Chad, get him back on the phone and we'll talk with him.

We do have Tom Fuentes here, Jane Harman, the former U.S. congresswoman, a key member of the Homeland Security Committee. She's watching what's going on. Fran Townsend, our national security consultant here at CNN, a contributor, is joining us from New York -- and, Fran, I just want to be precise, do you suspect -- because security has been intensified, not only in the Boston area, which is obviously understandable, but also in Washington, DC, Metro Police have intensified security. They've gone on a higher alert status. New York City has announced it's going on a higher alert status.

What does that say to you, as a former homeland security adviser to President Bush?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, we shouldn't read anything into that. That would be standard protocol until law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security understand what they're dealing with. That's just good preparation and good prevention. So I wouldn't read anything into that.

You know, this -- what -- what -- all law enforcement has said to us thus far is that it appears to -- that the event was a well- coordinated, well-planned event. They haven't used the word attack yet. They clearly want to understand what these devices were that exploded.

The fact that there was a third con -- a third device, where there was a controlled explosion, the device found at the JFK Library, will be very good for law enforcement's lead purposes. They will understand more about these devices as a result of that and be able to look at that against the residue they found along the marathon route to determine, were all three related?

What were they made of?

And they'll begin to piece this together.

I said earlier, the Joint Terrorism Task Force is working. That's the FBI working with local law enforcement to look at things like surveillance camera video and to see what clues they can put together.

Was this a domestic group?

Was this an international group?

And to understand the motivation. BLITZER: Let's -- let's bring in Chad Wells once again.

I think he's on the phone.

He's -- he was an eyewitness to what happened. His wife was running in the Boston Marathon.

Chad, what did you see and what did you hear?

Well, I guess we lost Chad once again. Obviously, the connections with Boston are difficult right now, hard to get through. You might be able to make a connection, but then you lose that connection. So many people calling Boston from not only elsewhere in the United States, but, indeed, around the world. There were marathon runners, indeed, from many, many dozens of countries participating in this Boston Marathon today, 27,000 participants in the Boston Marathon. So you can understand that communications are difficult with -- what what was going on.

We'll try to reconnect with Chad and get his eyewitness account shortly.

Peter Hamby is standing by. Matt Frucci is standing by.

John King has been on the phone with sources in Boston.

What are you picking up -- John?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Number one, Wolf, there -- there's some disagreement about the connection to the possible JFK Library bombing. The library itself has been Tweeting and saying publicly there was a fire in the mechanical room. Now they say that police are investigating whether there's a connection. So we'll see how that one plays out.

I will tell you, as a precaution now, the JFK Library is in the Dorchester section of Boston, right along Boston Harbor. The John F. Kennedy School of Government, which is miles away, in the city of Cambridge, across the Charles River, has been evacuated. This is one of the many precautions being taken now, as people are just on alert and on edge because they -- there's such conflicting information and they're not sure whether there's more.

You heard Ed Davis, the Boston police commissioner, confirm what I was told by a state government official a bit earlier, that there were no advanced intelligence warnings, no advanced credible threats that something like this was coming. So as they launch into the investigation now, there -- it's not like they're acting on some -- trying to follow up on some information they received in advance.

As you look at the site here, I just want to remind people, this is the heart and soul of downtown Boston, Copley Square. You have the major public library there. There are several big hotels right around here. The marathon finishes here. Back in my days as a reporter in Boston, I used to go down and help our sports guys sometimes. Go down to the finish line and, you know, take quotes from runners when they finished the race here.

Thousands of people come there. Fenway Park is less than a mile away. And there's an 11:00 Patriots Day. It's a holiday in the State of Massachusetts every year. People go to the early game, they come to Copley Square. Plus, state government is closed. City government is closed. Schools are closed.

And so right around there are just dozens and dozens of tourist attractions.

So there's a huge crowd, not just the marathon. The marathon brings in thousands. And then you have others just there.

So if you're trying to make a political statement, Wolf, in Boston on this day, sadly, that is the place to do it.

But as Tom noted earlier, again, we have a tragedy unfolding here, but the scope of the explosion, the strength of the explosion seems to be relatively modest. That's one of the things that police are now trying to investigate.

BLITZER: "The Boston Globe" is now reporting 100 people have been injured. That number keeps going up. Initially, with the original reports, we thought four or six. Then it went up to the 20s, 40s, the 50s. Now "The Boston Globe," the local newspaper in Boston, reporting 100 people have been injured, some of them critically injured. We don't know the extent of the other injuries. We do know that at least two people are dead.

KING: I was just going to say, one of the -- again, I hate to use this word, but one of the advantages in this case, is, number one, our initial numbers were coming from Massachusetts General Hospital, which is just a short distance from the main site. But one of the good things here -- let me put it this way, is that you're in a city with many, many groundbreaking medical institutions. And so as we get more numbers, Tufts New England Medical Center, Children's Hospital, City Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, within a mile or two of where this finish line is, there are a number of renowned medical institutions. So Mass. General Hospital is a big trauma center. That's the first place you'd look. But there are many other emergency rooms in the area, Wolf. And that's where those additional numbers are coming from.

BLITZER: John is a native of Boston, knows the city well. He not only grew up there, but worked there at the same time.

Chad Wells, are you on the phone right now?

CHAD WELLS (on the phone): Yes, Wolf.

I can hear you.

BLITZER: Chad Wells was an eyewitness to what was going on. I understand your wife, Chad, was running in the marathon, where were you when these twin explosions occurred?

WELLS: I was walking down Boylston Street. I was one block from the finish line with my son, Mason. My wife had just finished at 2:10 Eastern time. We got stuck on the subway coming back in from Heartbreak Hill. We were coming back to the finish to join up with her.

And I was standing on the southeast corner of the museum there at Copley Square, by the medical tent, with my son, walking to meet up with my wife in the family area. And an extremely loud, violent blast went off and just shook the ground and shook us.

BLITZER: And that's what you saw.

And your wife is -- I hope your wife is OK, right? WELLS: Yes. She was fine. Luckily, she was in the -- she had finished and passed through the finish area and had already transitioned to the family waiting area. Within about, I don't know, 10, 15 seconds of the first blast, there was a second huge blast. And then my son and I saw people sprinting from the finish line area up towards us. So, we cleared out of the area quickly, too, because it became a scene of just pure chaos.

BLITZER: And where are you now? What's it like where you are? I assume you're still in Boston.

WELLS: Well, that's funny enough, Wolf. I'm sitting in my hotel room on the 35th floor in the Marriott here at Copley Square looking down over the blast scene. And there are multiple S.W.A.T. units, dozens and dozens of police cars, ambulances. It looks literally like a war zone out there.

BLITZER: It certainly does, because we've been showing our viewers here in the United States and around the world images of what's going on. It does look like a horrific scene, reminds me of some of the other terrorist incidents if, in fact, this was a terrorist incident that we saw over this past few years here in the United States, indeed, in London, and other places around the world.

And as of right now, I just want to reiterate, we don't know the source -- we don't know who set these bombs in the Boston area, at least two, maybe a third at JFK library as well. We don't know -- no one has taken responsibility as far as we know, at least not yet. For viewers just tuning in, just want to let everyone know that at least two people are confirmed dead. "The Boston Globe" now reporting at least 100 people have been injured in these multiple explosions, some of them critically injured.

They've been taken to local hospitals in the Boston area. Just a few moments ago, we did hear from local police in Boston, among other things we learned this.


COMMISSIONER ED DAVIS, BOSTON POLICE: Today, there were simultaneous explosions that occurred along the route of the Boston marathon near the finish line. These explosions occurred 50 to 100 yards apart, and each scene resulted in multiple casualties. We have, at this point in time, determined that there has been a third incident that has occurred. There was an explosion that occurred at the JFK library.

So, this is very much an ongoing event at this point in time. We are not certain that these incidents are related, but we are treating them as if they are. We're recommending to people that they stay home, that if they're in hotels in the area that they return to their rooms, and that they don't go any place and congregate in large crowds.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: That's the police commissioner in Boston, Ed Davis, saying this third incident, this third incident at JFK library may or may not be related, but they are treating that third incident at the JFK library as if it was related to the two other bombings over at the Boston marathon.

Joining us on the phone once again is Tom Hey. He's one of the marathon runners who also witnessed the explosion. Tom, what did you see?

VOICE OF TOM HAY, MARATHON RUNNER: I had just finished -- I had just come in, had gone through the area where you get sports drinks and food after completing the marathon, and had started to head back to where I was staying with some friends from college and was on Newbury Street, probably around, I guess, the intersection -- near Newbury and Clarendon and there was a large boom and just a cloud of smoke that came out.

And, there was almost like a pause, and then, everyone started screaming, running away from the cloud and explosion, and there's no debris or anything. And, it was just absolutely surreal. No one really knew what had happened, and everyone started to evacuate the area. Police and fire started heading towards where the explosion had happened.

BLITZER: And so, what did you do when you -- did you immediately start running away yourself?

HAY: Honestly, I couldn't because I had just finished. I was almost a little bit just kind of in a state where I was trying to get out of the way because people were running down the street, sidewalk. And, so I just turned around, tried to, as quickly as I could, head back away from the area, make my way back to where I was staying and try to get my cell phone and call my loved ones, respond to texts, let everyone know that I was OK.

BLITZER: Was there any indication in advance of the marathon -- you are one of the nearly 27,000 participants who were either running or in a wheelchair, taking part in this annual event. Did anyone give you any indication that there should be any concern as far as security is concerned? Were you given any advanced indication, just be careful?

HAY: I mean, a marathon -- there's police out from every single town along the way. In many ways, it's one of -- you know, it's the safest event you would think because there are so many police and fire and paramedics all along the race course, the whole 26.2 miles. So, it's really an event where, you know, it brings out the best in the city.

You feel the safest and there's just a lot of people out and smiling and just never could even consider that something like this would happen on this day.

BLITZER: On this day. No one could imagine that there would be two bombings right near the finish line of the Boston marathon and a third suspected bombing over at JFK Library in the Boston area as well. At least two people are dead, and "The Boston Globe" is saying at least 100 people have been injured, some of them critically injured, as a result of these bombings. Before I let you go, Tom, are you going to be back at Boston next year for the marathon or is this your last marathon?

HAY: I mean, I definitely would like to run it again. And, it just -- it's even just kind of too crazy even to think about right now. Still trying to piece it all together.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right. Well, I'm glad you're OK, Tom. Thanks very much for your eyewitness account. Tom Hay is one of the marathon runners who witnessed the explosion in Boston.

Jane Harman is here who's used to be a key member of the House Homeland Security Committee. You see what's going on, Jane. What goes through your mind?

JANE HARMAN, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER: Well, hopefully we don't see much more of this. As the police chief said, this is still an open incident. There may be more that happens in Boston.

BLITZER: Refusing to speculate about a possible motive or source --

HARMAN: No, we don't know that and we don't know -- that's right. But there may be other bombs, there may be other events in Boston or elsewhere. It's important. As Fran Townsend said earlier, that cities that are logical cities for some sort of incident like this be on high alert right now.

BLITZER: If there were some sort of political motivation.

HARMAN: That's right, if there were, but we don't know that there isn't. The good news is, as John King and I were saying, that these first responders are so dedicated and courageous, running to the problem as the people standing there or running away and ready to risk their lives to save the rest of us. I was the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and then I chaired an intelligence subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee.

I was here in Washington on 9/11, and the scene was -- again, the various scenes were right there, and there was no evacuation plan in Congress. I was headed to the dome of the capitol, which was then the location of the intelligence committee rooms. That was the -- we all think, the intended site of attack of the fourth plane that went down in Pennsylvania because of the heroism of the passengers.

So, most of us who are of a certain age have sadly lived through an era of terror. This may not be terror, but it may be. And the possibility of a homegrown attack, even though these are low-grade explosives, that's what law enforcement are saying, still could be still connected to some larger organization or to material on the internet that's prepared by a larger organization. So, there are a lot -- there are many more questions than answered. One last comment based on what John King was saying and that is, maybe the good news is it was a holiday. There is no rush hour right now. The subways at the site are closed. Maybe the subways in the city are closed. That means there'll be more people on the streets but fewer people than there would have been if this were a workday.

BLITZER: But we just got a statement from the Pentagon, Pentagon Force Protection Agency, saying we have temporarily increased security presence at the Metro Transit Center at the Pentagon out of an abundance of caution and not based on any specific threats.

We're also getting a statement in from the Washington, D.C. Police Department saying the police chief, Lanier, will be holding a briefing, a news conference, 6:00 p.m. eastern to discuss what happened in Boston and what's happening in Washington, D.C., where, again, out of an abundance of caution, they've increased security in Washington, D.C., in the greater metropolitan area.

They've done the same thing in New York City as well. Tom Fuentes, a former assistant director of the FBI and CNN contributor is here with us. You hear the police chief in Boston, Tom, say -- and the governor, you know, suggests -- Deval Patrick suggests people should just go home, stay home, don't go out on the street. That's pretty scary even when you hear that kind of talk, although, I totally understand why they're saying it.

TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, I think for now, they want to reduce the number of people that could be suspicious just walking around, because other people are going to see people walking around. They're still it carrying their backpacks that they've had with them all day. They're liable to be calling in so many extra phone calls to the police that they just don't have the resources to deal with.

So, the best thing for them is the same as if you were having a blizzard in town, get off the street, go home, you just get in the way of the police and the emergency responders and the investigators that need to move resources around. So, I think that would be the main issue. Just get out of our way so we can do our job.

BLITZER: I assume the FBI, ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco, they've sent forensic experts to the scene to take a look at these homemade -- whatever kind of bombs they were to try to get a sense of who might be responsible.

FUENTES: Absolutely. They would have had bomb techs at the event. They would have already been present there, members of the JTTF.

BLITZER: What can they learn from the residue from what's leftover of those bombs?

FUENTES: What it was made of, and possibly, how it was put together? So --

BLITZER: How long does that take? FUENTES: It can take -- not a long time if you see explosive powder or residue, get that to the lab, try to look at it, and see what it was made out of. But more importantly for them, especially since they did have an unexploded device that they've I'm hoping photographed before they detonated it, to see how it was put together, how was it wired, how were the timers, how was it set off?

Was it triggered by a cell phone? All of those type of indications of who made it or how they learned how to make it.

BLITZER: So, if there were two bombings at the marathon, a third explosion or whatever happened at the JFK library, then they discovered a bomb that had not yet detonated at a fourth location. If they see there is some similarity to these devices, then they think this is a carefully coordinated operation.

FUENTES: Well, it's coordinated. I think we give too much credit to people. It doesn't take a lot of coordination if four psychotic kids decide to make four explosive devices and time it to go off within a certain period of time or at a certain time. It's not something that would take, you know, years of planning to set up like a 9/11 type of attack.

But, still, yes, coordinated so that they would go off relatively close together to create the panic and create all that. Now, the other side of that, I ran the Chicago marathon several years ago, those last four miles, the ambulances are bumper to bumper on the street on the side of the street because so many people collapse from dehydration.

BLITZER: There's good medical attention.

FUENTES: So, you're already going to have all of the first responders, paramedics, ambulances, and law enforcement.

BLITZER: Hold on for a moment. We have another eyewitness joining us on the phone right now. Sheldon -- just pronounce your last name


BLITZER: Sheldon, are you there?


BLITZER: All right. Go ahead. Tell us your last name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Sheldon Irkenbrak (ph).

BLITZER: OK. Where were you, Sheldon, at the time of these bombings in Boston?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was directly across. I was on Boylston Street directly across from the Starbucks where the second blast occurred.

BLITZER: And what was it like? What did you see?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first blast, I think, right toward the finish line, which I'm about a half a block away, a white cloud of smoke. And then about 20, 30 seconds later, I -- that's when the second blast, and it literally threw me back, knocked over some of the barricades and I noticed several injuries, flying debris, and just kind of chaos at that time.

BLITZER: Were you hurt?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I wasn't hurt. Just kind of in shock and shook up. I was wondering what had just happened.

BLITZER: We have some pictures, Sheldon, I think of you and your wife. What were you doing there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was -- my wife was running the marathon and I was a spectator waiting for her to come through. She was a quarter mile away and was unable to finish it. So, we're kind of disappointed there, but really sad to hear about the injuries and so forth, more worried about them than the race.

BLITZER: Which is understandable. At least your wife is OK and you're OK. Thanks, Sheldon, for that report. Sheldon being an eyewitness to what occurred. We're also being told now that President Obama has been briefed by the FBI director, Robert Mueller, and the homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, on this incident. Now, take a look. We're just getting in some new video of the blast. I want to play it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had an attack!


BLITZER: That video made available by "The Boston Globe." Dramatic video. You heard the first explosion, then a few seconds later you heard a second explosion. Let's queue that back up. We'll play it one more time. Then Tom Fuentes, Jane Harman, John King, we'll relive it. Listen to this. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God, my God.


BLITZER: All right. We're queuing it up for our viewers. Here it is.


BLITZER: All right, you can get a sense of the panic that developed as a result of those two bombings. And you clearly could hear both of the explosions as a result of those bombings. Tom Fuentes, former assistant FBI director is with us. When you listen to that, you see the bombings. You hear the bombings, you see the reaction, you get a sense of the enormity of what has happened in Boston.

TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: I did, Wolf. But the first time I saw that video and each time I've seen it sense, I thought to myself, thankfully there were no more explosives used than actually was. Because you see that cloud of smoke go up into the air, but you also see people running from that cloud of smoke. All of those people could have been killed had that been a bigger amount of explosives. Just thankful that it wasn't.

And also in an urban environment like that with buildings all around, it has a canyon effect, where it actually amplifies the concussion from the amount of explosive to make it seem bigger and do more damage and hurt more people. So, the injuries from that, to me, indicate that it could have been, as bad as it was -- and we feel terrible because we do have fatalities -- it could have been much worse.

BLITZER: If there would have been bigger-- if those devices would have been more powerful, is that what you're saying?

FUENTES: Yes, I'm saying that. And you could have had a knapsack full that would not have attracted anybody's attention because you have 20,000 spectators nearby. The majority of carrying backpacks with dry clothing for runners and food and water. For the police, that's an almost impossible scene to contain. You know, when you have 50,000 or 100,000 spectators at the Super bowl, they're in a contained environment. You can settle up the magnetometers.

When you have spectators set up over 26 miles and then thousands in a large city square like that, it's virtually impossible for police to really secure that environment.

BLITZER: One of our White House producers was in Boston watching this marathon as well. Adam Aigner (SIC) was on the scene at the finish line when the bombings occurred. Adam, where are you now and what are you seeing?

ADAM AIGNER-TREWORGY, CNN PRODUCER (on the phone): Yes, hi, Wolf. I am right outside the Westin actually near the medical tent, just down here where the evacuated area is. There is police tape up everywhere and crowds of people, many of them runners, who can't get back into their hotels.

One thing I know in one of the alleyways where people have been gathering, a lot of the locals have been coming out of their houses and giving coffee and bananas and orange juice to the people who ran who are very underdressed for the slightly chilly day here in Boston and who are just loving each other and sort of huddling together and talking and trying to stay warm. One of the men said, thank you very much. Can I get your name? I'd like to repay you for this. And he said, this is just what people. This is just what humans do. And it's a very heartwarming scene of people coming out and helping each other. For a lot of people who are visiting here, who come into the city to run this race and have nowhere to go.

BLITZER: You were there as a participant, Adam, or just watching?

AIGNER-TREWORGY: I was just watching, Wolf. My stepsisters, both of them are runners, and one of them -- the professional runner was a competitor in this race. My stepmother was on the press truck. All of them are fine, as far as I know. I've been in touch with them. They're all on lockdown in a hotel in the area where a lot of the people who were at the finish line were taken immediately after the bombings.

But I've talked to many of the first responders here. One of the medical volunteers who just described a horrific scene and said when they rushed to the area, first responders were already there. And obviously, the medical personnel here is more sports medicine to help runners with aches and pains and problems running the marathon. And they're not necessarily prepared for this. They said they were triaging patients, applying tourniquets to open wounds. They said they say 50 of upwards of a hundred of people reported wounded. From everything from (INAUDIBLE) to just minor scrapes and cuts. And it's just been -- they said it was a horrific scene down there.

As of now, it seems to be calmer and everybody waiting around trying to find their loved ones and trying to get back to their hotels and try to find out what's going on.

BLITZER: Adam, stand by. We're just getting this in. Update now. An important one from the Boston police. They now say the incident at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, in the words off the Boston police, appears to be fire-related. Earlier, the police commissioner Ed Davis said that investigators were trying to determine whether the reported explosion at the JFK Library was connected to the two other bombings at the Boston Marathon. The library has said that fire appeared to have begun in the new building's mechanical room. So apparently it was not related to the two bombings at the Boston Marathon, which is important information just coming in from Boston police.

They said they're going to have another updated news conference at 7:00 p.m. Eastern later tonight. We'll of course have live coverage of that. But right now it looks like the incident at the Boston John F. Kennedy Library, presidential library, not related to the two bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Matt Frucci, one of our executive producers, also was on the scene at the time of the explosions. Once again, he's joining us. The latest numbers we have, Matt -- two dead and at least a hundred injured in these multiple - these two explosions, these two bombings. They are now officially being determined as bombings. Do we have more information coming in from the scene? You're there.

MATT FRUCCI, CNN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER (on the phone): Yes, I've been talking to my family, just trying to figure out what they saw in those first couple moments. And my mother said she did see children around the area of that second explosion. The explosion about 20 yards close to us, right across the street from us. She did say that after the explosion when she turned around, she saw a man with his shorts burned and his legs bloodied.

And I think that my brother, who we've been trying to find, may finally be arriving at this moment. So my parents are walking to him right now to give him a big hug. It's been about two hours-plus, and his cell phone has been shoddy, and the texting hasn't really worked. But he's okay. We're just going to give my brother a hug right now, if you don't mind. I'll come back to you in just a couple of minutes.

BLITZER: All right. That's a much more important notion. Give him a big hug from all of us. Matt Frucci is one of our executive producers.

Jessica Yellin is over at the White House, watching what's going on. Jessica, we've been told the president has been briefed by the FBI, by the Department of Homeland Security. What else do we know?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRSPONDENT: Wolf, he was briefed twice today about the incident so far. First at 3:00 he was notified about the incident while he was in the Oval Office by his Homeland Security adviser, Lisa Monaco, while some of his team was in the Oval. And then he had a second briefing, as you mentioned, by FBI director Robert Mueller and Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Janet Napolitano. In fact, we have a photograph of his briefing by Robert Mueller. He is on the phone with the FBI director while his new Homeland Security adviser, Lisa Monaco, is watching and his relatively new chief of staff Denis McDonough also there in the Oval Office in the foreground with him.

We are told they talked to him about the response to the incident there in Boston and coordination between state and local officials. As you know, a task force is being sent up to coordinate efforts among federal, state and local officials. That's part of the response that the federal government has undertaken after 9/11.

The president, again, expressed his sympathies first to the mayor of Boston and the governor of the state, Patrick Deval (sic). And has also -- I'm sorry, Deval Patrick, excuse me -- and has also offered them any assistance that they might possibly need from the federal government.

I'd add outside the White House the area there is completely on lockdown, fully secure with police tape barring any tourists from the area right in front of the White House. They say necessary security precautions always taken by the Secret Service after an incident like this.

And, finally, Wolf, no word whether the president would come out and speak tonight. But just as somebody who has covered this building for a while, I can tell you it would not surprise me -- in fact, I would somewhat expect if the president did come out and make some type of statement.

BLITZER: I suspect he will. But I think they want more information before the president of the United States goes out and speaks and reassures the nation, whatever he's going to say. This is an important moment for the president, an important moment indeed for the entire country.

Two bombings at the Boston Marathon right near the finish line. At least two people are dead, at least 100 people injured, some of them critically injured. There have been reports, at least one report, that the Boston police have at least one suspect in custody. But we've checked now with a spokeswoman for the Boston police department who tells us flatly, quote, "I don't know where they got that from, we don't have anyone in custody. No one in custody right now. John King, you're checking with your sources as well.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The confusion here seems to be - and after an event like this and Tom and the congresswoman know more about the specifics than I do -- an alert is sent out to the emergency rooms, asking when people come in for treatment, to look for certain types of burns, someone in closest proximity to the explosive device, if you will, to see if there's burns on your hands or in close proximity. It's a law enforcement tool to see if somebody who may have been part of the perpetrators of the attack then sought medical attention.

But as you know from that, and my sources said as well, there was an alert set out. They call -- if they do find people like that, the hospitals report back a person of interest. Law enforcement sources are saying right now, they have nobody that they categorize in any way as a suspect. That is part, though, of the alert system that goes out to the hospital rooms.

One other quick thing I want to follow up on is the JFK Library thing. That again is part of the confusion after things like this. The library itself said from the beginning it was a fire in the mechanical room. But the police as a precaution thought it might be related. So you've had other buildings evacuated, schools evacuated because of that. It's part, Wolf, of the necessary I would say, but unfortunate confusion that come after an event like this.

JANE HARMAN, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER: Wolf, these devices may have been remotely detonated, in which cases the people who pushed a button wouldn't be injured and may not be found for some time. But as Fran Townsend has said, there are surveillance tapes, there may be other ways to identify who left the package where this bomb went off.

I just wanted to add that, as we keep watching this same sequence, the flags of the 50 countries represented by these runners are flying. Let's understand, this is not just a U.S. event or a Boston event. This is a world event. And this Boston Marathon is iconic, and our response has to be measured and careful.

But the world is in this problem together. And a lot of the victims, if this turns out, if it turns out to be anything related to al Qaeda or terror groups in that part of the world - a lot of the victims of these attacks are Muslims, innocent Muslims. So this is a problem we're going to have to face for a while, and we do need to be resilient as we figure out how to deal with it.

KING: An interesting question as well and maybe Tom can weigh in. As you start to investigate something like this, does the timing have any impact on the investigation in the sense that everyone knows about how long it takes these world-class runners to run a marathon, within a few seconds or certainly within minutes or so of when the top world runners would cross the finish line. These explosions took place about two hours after that.


KING: Now, does that tell you anything in terms of, if you're starting an investigation -- again, forgive me for saying it like this, but if you wanted to make the most dramatic statement on this day, you would have done it right about when the world-class field was crossing the finish line, would you not?

FUENTES: You absolutely you would think so. Everybody would know, they're going to finish a little bit over two hours, the world- class runners. And that's when the most media coverage is, going to be the most intense. And then as people dwindle in, as I did when I ran it, a few hours later, most of the media is gone, just the family members and the loved ones are left behind to greet the stragglers, let's say, as we came in.

So an event like this, yes, why would they have waited so long? Maybe the crowd was so thick at the finish line, they couldn't get in close enough, they couldn't penetrate and had to wait for the original people to get out of the way and go home and work their way up closer.

But the police -- you know, the amount of media coverage that would be on and the cameras available would be reduced. There's still a lot, as we see here - there's still a lot of film being taken and also private film and private videos being shot by spectators. But everybody's going to look very suspicious. Unfortunately in the modern era we have a diverse audience, diverse spectators.

KING: There are plenty of surveillance cameras there, Wolf.

BLITZER: They got to go now. Look at all the videotapes - all the closed-circuit TV cameras that were rolling at the time of these two explosions, these two bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

The governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, we'll play a clip of what he just said. But we have just been told that President Obama will make a statement to the nation shortly after 6:00 p.m. Eastern time, right at the top of the hour, around 6:10 p.m. Eastern. The president will go out and make a statement as we anticipated he would want to do to reassure the country, tell us what he knows, tell us what he can about these two bombings at the end of the Boston Marathon.

So once again, right now the White House saying it's 6:10 p.m. Eastern, it's about, what, 25 minutes or so from now, the president of the United States will come out and make a statement to the nation on these bombings at the Boston Marathon.

The governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, he just spoke out a few minutes ago as well. Let me play this clip.


GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We are asking that people stay out of crowds and calmly make their way home, or if they're visiting, back to their hotels. All of the hotels' security will be prioritized at the outset. Again, if people have information, please use those tip lines. This is very, very important that we get as current information as we can as quickly as possible.


BLITZER: And now, by all indications, this does appear to be a terrorist attack. These two bombings in Boston, multiple people have been injured, at least 100 have been injured, some of them critically injured.

There you see the first explosion going off and a few seconds later a second explosion goes off as well. At least two people are dead.

The president, once again, will be making a statement to the nation at 6:10 p.m. Eastern. That's right after the top of the hour, less than 25 minutes or so from now.

We're also told that the speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, plans to preside over the House chamber fairly soon, call for a moment of silence for the victims of this Boston attack. Clearly an attack. No one yet has claimed responsibility. We don't know who is responsible for this, but clearly we have now concluded this is a terrorist attack, for whatever motivation -- whatever the motivation is.

We don't want to overly speculate about possible motivations, but clearly two people are dead and a hundred people are injured, some of them critically injured, as a result of these bombs going off.

Kyle Pinto is joining us on the phone right now, another eyewitness to the explosion.

Kyle, where were you and what did you see?

KYLE PINTO, BOMBING WITNESS: I was about 20 feet away. I was, you know, at the bar right down the street from the blast. And when it went off, just huge, huge noise. Everybody ran out from the bar to try to see what was going on, and all you saw was just people laying on the street. First responders were there quickly. But it was just -- it was just mayhem.

BLITZER: And what did you do then when you went outside and saw what was going on?

PINTO: You know what? You went out and tried to help as much as you can, you know, give CPR, whatever you can do. But you just try to -- try to help out with the first responders.

BLITZER: Did you help some of those first responders deal with those who were injured?

PINTO: As much as I can. You know, you clear debris off, you know, whatever you can do. Absolutely.

BLITZER: Did you see injured people?

PINTO: We did, yes.

BLITZER: And what were their conditions, the ones that you saw?

PINTO: There was a lot of blood everywhere. It was a -- it was a scary scene, absolutely, because this had never happened before to Boston. It was just a scary, scary scene.

BLITZER: And how did the other people react? Was there a sense of panic, or did people sort of come together and say, let's go out and help?

PINTO: You know what, I actually felt, Wolf, that there was a sense of camaraderie. Everybody went together and tried to help out everybody who was there.

BLITZER: Well, that's encouraging to hear, that kind of camaraderie developing as a result of what is clearly a terror attack at the Boston Marathon. Two bombings --

PINTO: It was a horrible, horrible scene.

BLITZER: Yes. I can only imagine. The video that we've seen, the pictures that we've seen, the descriptions, the eyewitness accounts, Kyle, like your account, they have been horrific about what's going on.

Once again, we don't have a motive. We don't know who was responsible. A spokeswoman for Boston Police tells us they -- no one is in custody, but they're going through closed-circuit television camera video to see what they can learn, FBI and other forensics experts.

PINTO: I hope they find those responsible.


BLITZER: We hope they find those responsible as well.

PINTO: Absolutely.

BLITZER: And the full justice of U.S. law develops.

All right, we have some other eyewitness accounts of what happened. Let me play the videotape.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were standing across the street from Lord & Taylor and to our left, toward the -- finish line two huge bombs, smoke coming out of the buildings, and then something else to the left of us, and the whole thing crashed and they sent us away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Big huge explosion while we were having lunch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And everybody ran for the doors and windows, and we were sheltered under tables.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I work in the Prudential, but I don't know what's going on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were at the Lenox. We opened a window.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The elevator shook the whole building. It was quite a blast, two of them. Scared the hell out of us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did I see? I was watching watching the race, and we heard explosion, and you know it was a little bit louder than an M-80 Cherry bomber. And we saw all the smoke was right across the street from us, basically. It was the most serious thing I've dealt with being on the fire department for 26 years. It was -- it was a terrible scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I made the turn, it was like the first pop, boom, and then another one, boom. And then another one, boom. It's like one after another. It was just one big cloud of smoke.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White smoke. And then the other one, one after the other to the other.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just crazy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm OK. She was in the grandstand. And I was -- I was just worried about her, you know?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But -- it's bad. This is really, really bad.


BLITZER: So the president of the United States will be making a statement to the nation, 6:10 p.m. Eastern, about 20 minutes or so from now. He'll go into the Brady Press Briefing Room. There you see they're getting ready the podium there for the president, camera crews, the reporters, they're getting themselves ready, as well. The president will walk in, make a statement. Don't know if he'll answer reporters' questions, but he will make a statement to the nation. That's coming up less than 20 minutes from now.

A horrific dual explosion, two bombings. We are now saying they are these are terrorist attacks, although no one has claimed responsibility, no one -- we don't know any motive for what occurred, but we do know two people are dead, maybe more.

Right now, two people are confirmed dead and 100 people are injured, some of them critically injured.

Tom Fuentes, I wanted to bring you back into this analysis of what's going on. Tom Fuentes, the former assistant director of the FBI.

Walk us through, the president he gets on the phone, he hears from his National Security team, his Homeland Security team, his White House chief of staff, the director of the FBI, Robert Muller, briefs him on the telephone. The president wants to know what's going on, but there may be a lot more questions than there are answers.

TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Always in that situation, the initial blast goes off, no one knows exactly who did it, how big it was, how many are injured, all they know is that the bureau and ATF and other federal agencies, state and local agencies, would have had hundreds, if not thousands of law enforcement officers already deployed at the event because of such a huge event, in addition to the medical personnel that we talked about earlier.

So it's not like the president has to be told, and say, OK, now send somebody there. They're already there. Now he may say, you know, pull out the stops and send more people, but there's already a huge deployment at the event before the first runner even arrives to take off that day. There would have been weeks, if not months, of planning on the part of all of the officials, the JTTF and the others would all be sharing intelligence on any threat of any kind coming in, whether it's from overseas or whether it's a domestic group or chatter in a prison in a U.S. jail. Any of those things would have already been funneled to that group.

BLITZER: Jane Harman is here, former member of the House Homeland Security Committee, a former congresswoman.

You know, I remember vividly because I was covering at the time the Oklahoma City bombing, and all -- a lot of the initial speculation about who may have been responsible on what happened turned out to be inaccurate.

Do you remember that?


BLITZER: So I just want to caution all of our viewers right now, we don't know who's responsible, we don't know any motive, and some of the initial speculation could be way off. Well, it could be way off, but there is probably a review going on, again, of what traffic, intelligence traffic, we saw before the race. And maybe things that didn't seem to be clues before are clues now, and maybe there is some connection to future events, which is, again, why we have to be vigilant across a number of cities.

HARMAN: Just want to applaud John Boehner, you reported that he's presiding over the House now and that there will be a prayer for those who were killed or injured and their families. I think that's very important that the Congress stay open. On 9/11, I was there. We closed Congress and we closed the office buildings, obviously out of concern for the safety of the people who were there, but those people represent the constituents in Boston and else where around the country who may be at risk, and they have to stay there.

And it is a good thing that the leadership of the House decided to keep the House open.


HARMAN: And I assume the Senate, and also one other thing to add, Wolf, which is that the leaders of Congress and the heads of the intelligence committees need to be briefed, too, not just the president on these events.

BLITZER: On 9/11 there was fear that a plane might be heading towards Capitol Hill, that's why they shut it down.


BLITZER: They told all members, all staff, get out of there, go to some secure underground areas. Because they didn't know what was happening. I suspect this is a lot different right now.

HARMAN: But it's the country's safety ahead of our safety.


HARMAN: First responders know that. They're running to these events and members of Congress have an obligation to keep the country safe.

BLITZER: We have another eyewitness account of what happened. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) and I had just crossed the finish line at I guess around 3:45. We were about 100 yards into what we call the finishing chute, the long area that you walk through after finishing. There was a huge explosion right behind us. We turned, as you do, and saw a white plume of smoke rising into the air from what seemed to my perspective to be just --

(CROSSTALK) MAYOR THOMAS MENINO, BOSTON: Explosions happened on Boylston Street the last few hours. The Boston Police, state police, all public safety officials working together on this issue. The governor and I have spoke with the president of the United States just a half hour ago and (INAUDIBLE) us doing this investigation. I offer my condolences and prayers to the families that are involved in this explosion.

But also families may need some assistance could call the mayor's hotline, at 635 -- but also families need some assistance, they can call the mayor's hotline at 635-4500, if they need some information over the next 24 to 48 hours.

But let me just say that this is a tragedy. We're going to work together on this, and Boston Police, the state police, FBI, all the agencies we just met and we're committed to working together and making sure that we come to the finale of what happened this afternoon and the governor has been very helpful to us on several issues this afternoon.

So I'll turn it over to the governor and have him say a few words.

PATRICK: Well, thanks, Mr. Mayor, and thanks so much for coming out today. Obviously, we all send out our condolences to the victims and their -- and their families. We are asking everybody to stay out of the perimeter of the explosions, about a 15-block area which has been secured by the state police.

That is a crime scene right now. It's very, very important helping people do their job, law enforcement do their job, the people stay out of that area.

We said earlier it's probably best that most people make their way calmly home, and if they are visiting the city, back to their hotels. The commissioner has prioritized security at the hotels just so for everyone's peace of mind.

We are working on a -- I guess the term we're using is a drop-in center in the -- in the city so that people who are trying to find runners or family members who didn't meet at the usual meet-up space -- place because of the race was cut short, will be in a position to announce that, we hope, very shortly. So that people can find some assistance to help people find their loved ones.

But I really am grateful that all of the federal, state, and local law enforcement officials are coordinating so -- so closely and so well. They are talking constantly. They are all in investigation mode right now. It's very serious time, so we do need people to stay out of the area of the explosion for the time being.


MENINO: Let the police commissioner say a few words. Commissioner -- ED DAVIS, BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: I'd like to clarify one statement. The device at the JFK Library was actually an incendiary device or a fire. We haven't linked that directly to this incident. So right now, this incident consists of two explosions that occurred on Boylston Street. The information that we got about 15 minutes before the press conference could very well be premature, but we are still asking people to be -- to be calm, to go to their homes, and to -- and to work closely with us.

If they have information, we need to hear about it, that's 1-800- 494-TIPS. As the governor said, the area, about a 15-block area around the blast site, will be closed down for the next 24 hours and maybe further than that. People should be aware of that when they make plans for tomorrow.


DAVIS: We are looking at all of that right now. That's one of the investigative steps that we have taken.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They said they were doing drills this morning for the same exact thing to happen on (INAUDIBLE). Now were these guys given any warning ahead of time or this taking place?

DAVIS: As I said earlier, there was no specific intelligence. We certainly increased posture around a big event like this. All of things happen in preparation for this event, but there was no specific intelligence that anything was going to happen.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you talk a little about what type of device -- do you have any idea what type of device?

DAVIS: At this point in time, it's too early to get into the specifics, these are powerful devices that resulted in serious injuries.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Was there shrapnel?

DAVIS: Again, it's too early to tel.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you have a suspect?

DAVIS: Those reports are not true. There is no suspects in custody. We're questioning many people, but there is no one in custody at this point in time.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) this event? DAVIS: Again, we're still compiling that information, but we hope to have a count as soon as we can work with the hospitals and the public health people.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is that accurate, the tweet that two people are dead?

DAVIS: There are fatalities, I won't get into the details on that.


DAVIS: I said I wouldn't get into the details on that. There are people that have expired as a result of this incident.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Were the devices in the trash can or mailbox?

DAVIS: We don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Commissioner, what about reports that there are police guarding victims at Mass General?

DAVIS: There are police that have been dispatched to all of the hospitals as part of our investigative protocol to secure the area and also to make sure that we get every witness statement that we can possibly get.

All that stuff is happening right now.


DAVIS: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: But guarding rooms, specific rooms at Mass General?

DAVIS: There's a heavy police presence at all the hospitals, some of the hotels, and other venues throughout the city. Thank shouldn't read anything into that.


QUESTION: Are they looking into garbage cans? Are they scouring the area looking at all types of possibilities?

DAVIS: Anything that is unattended right now, any package that is unattended is being treated as a potential problem. And we're methodically going through the area to make sure we check each particular parcel and item that's out there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to call this for now. We will be back with some more information when we have it. But thank you all for coming.