Return to Transcripts main page

Breaking News

Terror Attack At Boston Marathon; Eyewitness Accounts; Discussing the Investigation

Aired April 15, 2013 - 23:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with breaking news on the terror attack in Boston. Three people are dead, including an 8-year-old child, a little boy.

At least 144 have been injured -- that's the latest we know at this moment -- many of them with shrapnel wounds, things like ball bearings in the bombs. Seventeen are in critical condition, 25 are in serious and at least eight are children. And as we said, one of the confirmed dead tonight is an 8-year-old boy.

The FBI is leading the investigation. And federal law enforcement has been placed in a level one mobilization, which basically means all hands on deck. Up in Boston, they're now working 24 hours a day, all days off and -- have been canceled at this point.

The first explosion went off around 2:50 Eastern Standard Time right near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The video from "The Boston Globe" captured the explosion as it happened.


BURNETT (voice-over): The second explosion went off 12 seconds after the first one, severely injuring innocent bystanders who were standing up to 100 yards away from the source of the explosion. Runners, some were knocked off of their feet if they were in that shock wave zone.

Thousands of spectators started to run, at that point, for safety. And, of course, there were many who turned and ran back towards the explosion to try to help the injured.

The severity of the situation was immediately apparent to law enforcement at the scene. We wanted to just play for you the radio traffic among the Boston Police Department in just the few moments after the attack.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Definitely devices here. I need officers; definitely devices here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Units, stay off the air. Units stay off the air; just make your way over there. All units stay off the air and make your way over there. I only want to hear from the 984. I only want to hear from that supervisor. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Delta 984, give me a clearance for what I need. I need as many (inaudible) as you can get me. I want Ring (ph) Road cleared indoors and in and out. (Inaudible) Unit 984, take control of the fire coming in. I need lanes open here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Copy. Just keep giving it out, sir. All -- anybody else stay off the air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Delta 984.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Delta 984, sir, go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need help from the medical tent. Get as many people up there as you can from the medical tent.


BURNETT: President Obama addressed the nation earlier tonight and promised the full resources of the federal government. The FBI is now formally in charge.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn't jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But make no mistake: we will get to the bottom of this. And we will find out who did this; we'll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.


BURNETT: The full weight of justice. Well, federal, state and local authorities are now searching the city for answers. So far no suspects have been formally identified. But a law enforcement source sells CNN they have a number of quote-unquote "active leads." That's the term they're using right now.

The crime scene, which covers several city blocks, has been locked down by the National Guard. The ATF has sent their entire explosives response team from New York and the FBI is asking anyone with information about the attacks to contact their tip line.

Our Chris Cuomo is joining us tonight from Boston.

And, Chris, what is the scene like there tonight?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It is a very tough time up here right now, Erin. It's six square blocks around the blast zone has all been cordoned off. The Boston cops are still here on the scene. They're doing 12-hour shifts. The National Guard is here. Various federal agencies and vehicles and walking around.

When you walk around the scene, it is a ghost town where the explosion happened. People who live there have to stay largely locked up into their homes for right now. You see abandoned strollers, all types of bags, lots of sneakers, all signs of how people just dropped everything and ran when this happened.

When you talk to people in the area who were watching from the roofs, they said when they heard the explosions, they thought it was about Patriot Day. They thought it was about that four-hour mark into the marathon. And of course, we learned, Erin, it was something much, much worse.

BURNETT: And Chris, you know, as we know, throughout the day, there's been so many confusing and conflicting reports of how many devices there were. What are -- is the latest that you've been able to find out about that?

CUOMO: We have the latest information. And also an answer to why it was so difficult. When they found out what types of ordnance this was, small packages, lonely placed, light explosives, black explosives as opposed to high explosives, which I'll explain in a second, they had to start looking at every type of package like that.

So throughout the day, there was reporting about potential devices that luckily wound up being cleared. And that gave authorities a very good look at what type of sophistication was here and who might be involved. So the latest on the bombs, Erin, here's what we know.

Again, they were placed low on the ground, small devices, relatively weak. Now what does that mean? High explosive, plastic explosive wasn't used here. They believe this was a black powder bomb, maybe two of them. They're still trying to figure it out. They say they know how they were detonated. They're not releasing that information, because they believe it will help them figure out how this was done.

Here's what you have to understand about the bombs, though, Erin. High explosive, 20,000 feet per second it flies out. Black powder bombs, (inaudible) 7,000 feet per second. Ball bearings were in both of these bombs, they believe, at 7,000 feet per second. For comparison, a bullet out of a 9 millimeter handgun is going about 1,000 or 1,200 feet per second.

So ball bearings, big ordnance coming at 7,000 feet per second. When I walked the area a block away, Erin, there were pock marks in buildings and vehicles from being hit with those ball bearings.

Throughout the day, they found other packages that met the description. Because of all these bags that have been left around, they were checking. Some water cannon was used. All these packages were cleared.

As of yet, right now, the crime scene is still in the early stage of investigation, because they are still searching all of these packages. Also they believe, Erin, that at this point they could suggest the theory of still one person involved, that they don't know that this was coordinated in terms of a team. It could have been coordinated in terms of different steps.

So that's the latest that we have on the bomb right now. Now, a big point, Erin, that we're making as we go through this, is the crime scene, right now, early. Why? Well, that's because they have a lot of searching to do, so we're going to pick up with the investigation there right now, what we're learning.

And Brian Todd with me -- Brian, it's good to have you here. Got to talk to the police commissioner. What was the latest in terms of detail of the investigative of how this happened?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some incremental things we're picking up, Chris. To add to your point about the bombs, he told me there were at least two devices, possibly a third. That's what they know right now.

They are monitoring surveillance cameras in the area; they're trying to pick up whatever surveillance was there. They know there were a lot of surveillance cameras in that general area of the city. They're working to compile what was gathered from those cameras, but also looking at -- with the FBI, trying to get any media outlet footage of the end of the race.

So a lot of cameras around there filming the end of the race, anyway, from media outlets. They're working with the FBI to compile some of that evidence, as well. So some of that may be coming out. They may be releasing some of it to us; we're not sure.

But that will be able to tell them a lot between the surveillance camera and the media outlet cameras of what happened, the sequence of the bombs, how they went off and maybe someone who might have been in the area who was suspicious at the time.

CUOMO: The last point, very interesting. What do they think they can figure out from cell tower data that might help triangulate who was calling whom, you know, that type of communication insight?

TODD: Well, they're going to be looking at all of that. I mean, they were -- of course reports that they might have shut down some of the cell towers around here because they were afraid that that might set off some of the devices.

They later learned that that, you know, that they weren't doing that. But, yes, that's going to help them triangulate who was around, that, plus the surveillance camera video and the media outlet that, you know, you can't emphasize that enough.

One of these TV crews around here, covering the end of that marathon very likely saw something or maybe saw someone around here. And I get the impression from the police commissioner that that's going to be something key that they're going to be looking at.

CUOMO: Only word that they're finding some promise in what they're seeing in the detonated ordnance, what they're able to learn from the bomb signature, what they call it?

TODD: That's right. And what, you know, some of what you were saying is correct. You know, a low-lying device; we're hearing that it was a very crude device, not sophisticated, but ball bearings were being picked out of the -- some of the wounds of some of the injured people. Some of the injuries, of course, are severe. We -- the commissioner talked to us about that. The injuries range from cuts and lacerations to amputations. So, you know, again, some of that could be used as potential evidence when they pick out some of the ball bearings, some of the -- you know, some of the other shrapnel that was used, they'll be able to figure out some of what was going on.

CUOMO: Brian, I appreciate it. I know you're going to keep reporting. We'll get more information. Thank you very much.

Erin, we're going back to you. The point that Brian just made about these injuries, three lives were lost, we know that. But there's so many people fighting for their lives tonight. This is far from over for them, Erin.

BURNETT: As you said, there's going to be so many more surgeries required on those people.

All right. We're going to be back with Chris in just a few moments. But there have been so many frightening stories from eyewitnesses who described the deafening blast, the shattering glass and the gruesome injuries, what they saw happen in front of their eyes to other human beings.

Earlier I spoke to one mother who was closing in on the finish line. She was running. Her husband and two children were watching her get ready to finish and then the explosions went off. And I asked her how she barely escaped injury or something worse.


DEMI CLARK, EYEWITNESS: Angel on my shoulder or whatever you want to call it. I had been running on the left and slapping people's hands, just wonderful spectators who were so supportive in those last two miles.

I knew that my family was in the bleachers on the right, and so I moved over so that my daughters could see me. It was really important for them to see me at the finish. And as you can see the blast happened right to my left.

And I immediately looked over and saw the runners down. And just smoke and people up against the fences and just horrific, horrific scene. And then the second blast went off.

BURNETT: And what did you think when that happened? I mean, were you just in shock? Did you think this was an attack? I mean, what went through your mind?

CLARK: Honestly, I mean, for somebody who had just run for four hours, you know, didn't know anything. I'm trying to get my wits about me. I -- honestly, what's in my head right now is this indelible image of the official that was to my left as I crossed the finish, because he was facing that direction. And it was just this horrific look on his face. He was horrified. And so I immediately turned at that point after just hearing that blast. And saw it and then the second one happened and then I immediately thought of my family. So I think just disbelief, like what just happened?

BURNETT: And did you see people, injured people?

CLARK: Oh, it was immediate because there was so much glass and so much -- it was so explosive. I don't know how else to say it. It was so impactful that there were just people up against the fence and blood everywhere and glass and just something out of a war zone. I can't say it any differently.

BURNETT: And then, Demi, you must have looked for your family. You must have been so terrified. Did you -- were you able to find them in the stands? I mean, I know they're OK and you're all there tonight in the hotel room together. But were you able to find Brian (ph) and Maizie and Willa?

CLARK: I was. Thankfully my husband is big. He is about 6'4" and 240. And he literally had one daughter under each arm. He was easy to spot in a crowd. And at that point, I think we all -- after the second blast went off, we thought, I think, collectively, right there at the finish, what else could be happening?

Would the bleachers go up next? You know, could it -- could there be another chain reaction of explosions? So it was immediately get as many people out of that scene as possible. And I can't say enough about the Boston police. They were right up on the scene.

Those guys went straight over to help, as well as race officials, just volunteers, so many people to help. And they just really corralled us through as runners to try to get us out of there, so just so many helpers.

BURNETT: And, Demi, what was the reaction of Maizie and Willa? I mean, they're 9 and 7. Did they understand? I mean, this is one of those events that will change your life and the lives of many who were there, probably theirs, too.

CLARK: Absolutely. My husband is with them right now and they just want to go to bed. I think they're exhausted emotionally, mentally. My daughters were just in tears. We were all crying. I heard the other account of just reuniting with families and being in tears. And that's exactly how we were. It was just how can I get my family to safety, being a momma bird?

And then also having just this heartbreak for the families of injured people or worse, because those were all -- those were all supporters of someone behind me that was running. And that could have been us and it's just -- it's heartbreaking.

BURNETT: And Demi, what's next for you? Are you going to -- you're there tonight, obviously. And they've made it clear that you're not supposed to leave the hotel room or do anything like that, right? You're supposed to stay just with your family inside? CLARK: Right and happy to do that right now. Again, make our -- make our kids feel better. They're the most important to us. And we fly home tomorrow night, so back to the Charlotte area and back to our friends and families. So just looking forward to taking care of our kids.


BURNETT: And now I want to bring in Elizabeth Cohen, our senior medical correspondent.

And Elizabeth, I know you have the story of two nurses, who were really the first on the scene, that ran in to help the injured. And obviously Chris is going to be joined by them in a couple of moments, but what was their story?

ELIZABETH COHEN, SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: These two men are both amazing. They are both nurses with decades of experience. And they said that nothing prepared them in many ways for what they saw. So they were in the tent near the finish line when they heard the explosions. Their names are Steve Segatore and Jim Assiante.

One of them, in fact, has served in Iraq. And he said when he ran out there to help, it looked like Iraq. They saw people with their limbs blown off, they see -- they saw people whose abdomens were open. And they rushed out, rushed these people into the tent. They said that everyone worked so well together,

All the physicians and all the nurses, they worked on dozens of patients, trying to get them into ambulances and out to local emergency rooms.


CUOMO: Hey, how are you?

Thank you very much. I'm here talking with Stephen and Jim. You're there, you were there to help the elite athletes, you're thinking you're going to be dealing with cramps, dehydration.

And then what happened, Stephen?

STEPHEN SEGATORE, FIRST RESPONDER: Well, the first thing we heard was the explosion, then we felt the concussion in the room. And then several of us went running towards the front door. And about halfway there we heard the second explosion, and then two or three of us kept going.

And then the group kept going back, waiting for the casualties. So about half of us went forward to the wounded and then half stayed back, waiting for the casualty.

So, Jim, let me bring you in; what do you see when you get to the casualties?

JIM ASSIANTE, FIRST RESPONDER: Lots of smoke, lots of confusion, lots of blood, lots of injured patients. For me, it was just a flashback to Iraq. Hearing that first explosion, I knew it was an IED. And usually they come in twos, sometimes threes.

Sometimes they wait until people come to help out the people that are injured and they set off the third one or the second one.

There were two. They stopped the third one, thankfully. And we had to make room in the medical tent from the athletes, the runners, the marathoners, to move forward so we could make room for the injured people that were coming from the scene.

CUOMO: Now we haven't been showing them on TV, but I've seen pictures of some of the injuries and they are horrific. The death toll at three right now, so many injuries, well over 100. What was being done at the scene that helped stabilize people with such horrific injuries?

SEGATORE: We had full trauma response at the scene and we had physicians, nurses who are experienced in trauma care; we had EMTs, and it was a full level one trauma experience. We had triage, we had stabilizing of wounds, transporting to level one trauma centers. I mean, it was the best response that I've seen.

CUOMO: Well, how did you get set up so fast? I mean, because you were there for such a different set of injury.

ASSIANTE: Well, it can't be -- you know, you can't thank EMS enough. The mass casualty scenario went into full effect, and it just went like clockwork. Boston EMS, the best.

SEGATORE: I think --

ASSIANTE: People just did what they had to do, using what resources they had. We didn't have a lot to do with what we had. We just made the best of a bad situation.

CUOMO: You saw a man, woman and child there, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I treated both a double amputee, I treated a young child and I also treated a young woman and a cardiac arrest.

I think the best scenario was that everyone turned from a, you know, this is a marathon, we're going to treat cramps and dehydration, from that to all of a sudden everyone who had trauma experience came to the front; everyone who didn't went to the back and let us do our experience and we did trauma care and moved everyone we could to the trauma centers.

CUOMO: How long do you think you were there triaging?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were triaging for at least half an hour, 45 minutes, longer than that, I'm sure.

CUOMO: How many people do you think came through?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I personally touched 25 people, and there's at least twice that in hospitals.

CUOMO: What were you thinking as you were seeing this volume of injuries?

SEGATORE: Me, it was just like going back to being in Iraq in 2006, 2007.

CUOMO: They looked like war injuries because of the shrapnel getting thrown off by the device?

SEGATORE: Absolutely. There was no pain medicine. There's -- people were screaming, people were trying to get in touch with their loved ones.

ASSIANTE: We did what we had to do. They were responding as you would expect people would.

CUOMO: What do you know about the kids?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know much about the kids other than what I've seen. I didn't see any children actually coming through the tents. I was more dealing with adults.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was my area. I dealt with two children. One young child and his father came through the system. And we got them on ambulances back, went to Children's, went to Mass General. And the younger child who was more injured, I'm not sure what happened to him. As far as I know, he expired.

CUOMO: When you were dealing with these people, did you think they were going to make it? I mean, right now, again, thank God the death toll is very low at three, but we have well over, you know, a hundred and then dozens more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We always hope that the death toll is low and we treat them as such. Everyone who we treat in a mass casualty, we assume they're going to survive. You know, the one woman who we worked on extensively, eventually we all came to the conclusion that, you know, myself, medical control, we decided she was (inaudible). But other than that, everyone was treated very aggressively.

CUOMO: How many of you were treating these waves of people that you were finding?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody came together as a group.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. As a group, it was phenomenal. I would say --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were 25 physicians and at least 40 nurses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was even people that were nonmedical that were asking, what can I do to help?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were -- there were --

CUOMO: What are the chances that you would have such an immediate response from such a large group of people in such a random situation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Except for this event, probably nil.

CUOMO: But at a marathon, you're not thinking trauma; you're not thinking triage. You're thinking dehydration, you know, maybe a heart attack --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of us come from an ICU-trauma background. So it took us a while to switch. But once we switched gears, we were like, OK, we're in trauma mode.

CUOMO: Listen, Stephen, Jim, thank God you're OK. Let me tell you, from the families out there, the victims, thank God you were there and you did what you did, because to have these types of injuries and to hear so little about people losing their lives is amazing. It's amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were lucky. We were lucky today. Hopefully, this doesn't happen anywhere else.

CUOMO: And let's hope our luck holds and that the people who were injured make it through. But thank you so much. I really appreciate what you're doing. Thank you for being here with us.

Erin, back to you.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to Chris.

And now let's bring in our chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, what do you make of what those nurses, the story they were just telling Chris, the kinds of injuries that they saw?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well , these are unusual injuries in a civilian setting. But you heard from one of the nurses -- I believe his name is Jim -- said he had spent some time in Iraq and probably had that experience over there, which probably helped him in terms of being able to triage these patients.

Look, you know, when you're in a sitting like this, as Chris was sort of pointing out, you're expecting one type of patient, possibly, patients who are dehydrated, maybe even somebody who has cardiac problems or something.

But this is a completely different scenario. What -- I think it was bolstered by, Erin, was that you had -- you had a lot of ambulances and EMS there, who do have supplies, but also the ability to take the most critically wounded out of there as quickly as possible. So it was a combination of things. I think that really helped. It was a fascinating interview.

BURNETT: Yes, it really was. I mean, just hearing what happened that moment by moment. Sanjay, one of the surgeons at Massachusetts General, which is where, I believe, 29 people are, eight of them are in critical condition tonight; we don't know if they're all going to make it. Obviously, you know, we're hoping that they are, but at this point, I know it's minute by minute.

But the trauma surgeon said that several patients are going to require, in his words "serial operations over the coming days." Some of these people have already gone through amputations already.

What does that mean, serial operations?

GUPTA: Yes, this is somewhat tough to talk about, Erin. But what they are usually referring to is when you think about these types of injuries, you think about injuries to the bone, to the soft tissue and to the blood vessels.

Sometimes it requires operations to sort of allow some of the tissue that has been injured here to heal a little bit so that it doesn't get infected. It may require taking away some of the dead skin over time or dead tissue, and again, I apologize, Erin, for even -- because I think it's maybe too early to talk about any of this. But that is, I think, in part what he is referring to when it comes to these lower extremity operations.

BURNETT: And quickly, before we go, Sanjay, on that issue, I mean, you know, you've talked a little bit about how the bombs must have been placed very low and that's why the injuries seem to be so low to the body. But some people might think just with the force of the blast some of it may have been blown higher.

What is your sense of that, that we're seeing so many lower leg injuries?

GUPTA: Yes, you know, it's interesting. And also I noticed that there were people who were very close to the blast site, you saw right after the -- you saw that explosion, who were able to run away from there. So I think it tended to be low and it tended to be somewhat focused, as well.

And it wasn't in multiple directions, it didn't look like, the force of this. I don't know what to make of that. If that speaks to the magnitude in terms of not being as strong a magnitude bomb or if it was just more crudely made. I just don't know.

Typically, you think about these explosions and you worry about things sort of coming up and out, out of an explosion, and people are actually told to hit the deck and get closer to the ground.

But in this case, obviously, again, so much of that force was low to the ground. And then you saw -- you saw the runners as they were running through there, did not seem to be blown back too much. One man probably stumbled and fell. But I'm not quite sure if that was by design or if just that's the way the explosion sort of turned out.

BURNETT: All right. Sanjay, thank you very much, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And more on our breaking news coverage from Boston still to come. You're going to hear from President Obama on the bombings. And we're going to talk to former experts from the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the FBI. We'll be right back.


BURNETT: As investigators continue to gather evidence, question witnesses and examine their surveillance video, of which we understand there was a lot from television news crews and CCTV that would have been in that part of Boston, there are still so many unanswered questioned tonight.

I want to bring in Tom Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director, and Don Borelli, a former member of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Now let me start with you, because of course, the Joint Terrorism Task Force is tonight saying, "To say that we're engaged is an understatement." I mean they are front and center in this.



BURNETT: So what is the latest that you're hearing from people you know there?

BORELLI: Well, as I understand, there's multiple tracks of investigation going on right now. And typically in these things, you heard in the last segment, the medical folks talking about triage.

Right now one of the biggest issues for the JTTF in Boston is triage, because no doubt they're getting hundreds of leads in from surveillance video, from concerned citizens, from informants that every investigator has been tasked to go out and gather information, talk to all your informants.

That information comes flooding back in, and then you have to try to make sense of it, what's real, what's not.

So there's a lot of investigative avenues going on right now.

In addition, you have got the two devices that exploded. There's a lot of forensic evidence available as the bomb technicians piece those back together and try to figure out, you know, who -- what was -- was did they look like, where were they placed, how were all these things, you know, how did these devices actually react.

In addition, reporting talks about some unexploded devices that were rendered safe that could be huge evidentiary value to the investigators. They could contain trace evidence, like DNA, hairs and fibers, fingerprints, so there's a lot of information being sifted through at this point.

BURNETT: And, Tom, how much information do you think they have right now? I mean, I think back to, you know, the last, you know, attack, when you think about Benghazi, but it turned out that they had a lot of information that had come in from intercepted phone calls very early on. And they didn't release all that right away because they needed to confirm it. But they did have that information coming in.

Do you think at this point they are, you know, they're not sure but they are a lot further along perhaps than perhaps it might seem?

TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Erin, I would tend to doubt that.

I think in this case the problem is going to be a flood of information, the amount of cell phone traffic going on in Benghazi probably nothing compared to the tens of thousands of people on their cell phones, sending pictures of their loved ones crossing the finish line, all of that, that would be going on here with the number of runners and spectators and media at a large event like that. The airwaves would be flooded.

And I know that the barrels going to be looking at, the other authorities, at specific traffic through the closest cell phone towers near the venue, but still it's going to be an avalanche of information for them to try to sort out.

BURNETT: A case of too much information perhaps, right?

FUENTES: Exactly.


FUENTES: That's exactly right.

BORELLI: Early on, sure, there's going to be a flood. Sifting through it is going to be hugely important. And that's where a lot of the analysts that the JTTF use will be really valuable in trying to help sift through what's important and what's not and trying to correlate that information.

BURNETT: Now, in terms of the information that we have so far, you know, they said they're looking for someone, darker skinned or black male. This is what they've put out, investigators; possible foreign accent, black backpack and sweatshirt. So they've put out that.

And then they have many people of interest, but they also -- we've reported that there's a Saudi national with a leg wound under guard, but he's not in custody and not involved in the investigation at this time. But of course we're not clear exactly why then he's under guard.

What do you make of all those things when you put that together?

BORELLI: Well, it's difficult. Obviously the investigators, the spokespersons for the JTTF, they don't want to tip their hand. I think there is obviously some investigative interest involved in some of these people. But I think it would be too early to really opine on -- is this person really involved? If not, what value are they? I think it would be difficult to start trying to second guess that right now. BURNETT: Tom, what do we take away from the explosive devices themselves? I know there are still question marks as to how many there were. You know, how many were dismantled versus the ones that actually exploded, but you know, they've been described as crude and not sophisticated.

But yet the ability to actually get them to go off to begin with and to have perhaps multiple ones is not an insignificant thing. So what does that tell you about who is responsible when you figure out this issue of how pre-planned was this, how coordinated, how sophisticated in terms of how many people were involved and perhaps whether this was a domestic or a foreign attack.

TOM FUENTES, FORMER ASSISTANT FBI DIRECTOR: Well, I think the sophistication and the device is an indication when they mention crude as opposed to highly sophisticated, it just means there's a wider population out there that knows how to make them or could figure how to make them with very little training.

They wouldn't have to go to terrorism school 101 to learn how to make a bomb like that. I was one of the assistant commanders at the Olympics in Atlanta of '96, and this device almost sounded like that, where you have a crude homemade pipe bomb in a knapsack and plastic food containers with roofing nails placed inside the sealed container.

So that when the bomb exploded, it sent the nails airborne as shrapnel. Unfortunately, one struck a woman and killed her at the venue. So these types of devices, a lot of people can make them. They're not hard.

If it's a standard black powder pipe bomb type device, there's just thousands of people that know how to do it or could figure it out pretty easily, as opposed to a more sophisticated device with cell phone triggered let's say or some the other more exotic methods of detonating the device.

BURNETT: All right, Tom, Don, thanks so much to both of you. For those of you just joining us now, here's the latest that we know about the deadly terror attack in Boston. Right now, still three people confirmed dead, one an 8-year-old boy, 144 at least have been injured.

Many of them with shrapnel wounds and medical experts tell us that number could be significantly higher, with people who perhaps have head injuries and are not aware of it at this point. Seventeen of those 144 are in critical condition, 25 serious.

At least eight of them are children. The FBI is formally leading the investigation tonight and federal law enforcement has been placed on a level one mobilization in the United States, which means basically all hands on deck.

The first explosion went off around 2:50 Eastern Time. Again, I want to play for you the video that has to aptly capture that moment throughout the day.

The second explosion, as you heard, went off 12 seconds after the first one. Many nearby were severely injured. Runners were knocked off their feet. It depended on where you were relative to that wave that came out.

Federal, state and local authorities are now searching the city for answers. So far formally there have been no suspects identified. But law enforcement source tells us there are a number of active leads of people that they are talking to.

Chris Cuomo is in Boston. We'll be going back to him in a few moments. But we want to tell what the president said today because he came out this afternoon, or early evening, around 6:10 Eastern and came out and talked to the country.

He was briefed on the bombings in Boston this afternoon and got a full briefing on what had happened. The president then met with his national security adviser and spoke on the phone with the director of the FBI.

His homeland security adviser and chief of staff were also there. He also spoke with the Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Later, the president vowed that those responsible will be found and held accountable.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We still do not know who did this or why and people shouldn't jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. Make no mistake, we'll get to the bottom of this and we'll find out who did this.

We'll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice. Today is a holiday in Massachusetts, Patriots Day.

It's a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great American city of Boston has reflected from the earliest days of our nation. And it's a day that draws the world to Boston's streets in a spirit of friendly competition.

Boston is a tough and resilient town and so are the people. I'm confident that they will put together, take care of each other and move forward as one proud city and as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way.


BURNETT: Jessica Yellin is at the White House today. Jessica, of course, the one thing we did not hear from the president was the word "terror." But obviously this seems to be a terror event. So what is the White House telling you why he chose not to say that formally?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, the president is being careful. I've been in touch with officials throughout the night. It's their position that what happened in Boston is an act of terror. But they don't yet know who carried out the attack and an investigation will have to determine whether it was planned and carried out by a terrorist group, foreign or domestic.

Now, clearly given that phrasing, the president avoided the word terror out of an abundance of caution and avoiding a rush to judgment or anything that could taint this investigation at its earliest stages. As you know, this is at its earliest stages. The president has directed his attorney general to make the full resources of the Department of Justice available.

The FBI is taking the lead on this investigation, but the ATF is helping as well, along with the Department of Homeland Security. We know that Attorney General Holder had a conversation with The U.S. attorney in Massachusetts telling them they should make whatever resources available necessary.

I imagine you can expect in the next few days, Erin, the president's schedule will change. No doubt he'll get many briefings, perhaps additional cabinet meetings. I wouldn't be surprised if we see him go to Boston to pay his respects in the coming days -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Jessica, thank you very much. Let's get back to Chris Cuomo now who is in Boston tonight -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erin. How are you? We're with somebody, Chris Collins, who was way too close to the action today. Let's set the scene. We're just before the 4:10 mark of the marathon. You were telling me that is about the busiest time when people are finishing, right?

CHRIS COLLINS, NECN SPORTS ANCHOR AND WITNESS IN BOSTON BLAST: Yes, no question about that, Chris. I understand that. Most of your lead runners are done well before that. So this is the point where family, friends, loved ones come to root on their loved ones. They were raising hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars during this Boston Marathon.

So at first, we heard the first blast. In the first blast was nothing really that alarmed the people where I was, which was at a restaurant. The doors are open, there's a huge patio. It's packed.

The first blast, you're thinking maybe it's a car backfiring or an M- 80, some type of fireworks. Maybe somebody hit the building, but you're not thinking explosion at this point because it was further up the road, and it wasn't that big of a blast to where we were standing.

CUOMO: But 12 seconds later.

COLLINS: But 12 seconds later, everything changed. That second blast was amazing. I mean, it was nothing you've ever felt before. I've never been near anything like that. It rocked the whole building.

Once that happened, in the building, it wasn't chaotic. But everyone made a steady stream through the kitchen, out the back door and into the street. That's where you saw the mayhem. People with bloody faces, torn clothing, bloody leg, injured, crying, screaming.

People just wondering what the heck just happened. And at that point, everybody from the restaurant was going away where the first responders, that's when you saw the ambulances, the fire engines, the police rushing the other way, kind of reminiscent of 9/11.

That's what I was thinking and feeling, as everybody returned towards the scene, was on their cell phones calling loved ones, I'm OK. Calling people to see are you out of there? I had a bunch of friends I came to the party with, and we were all split up.

CUOMO: And you were worried about what would happen next.

COLLINS: When you're dealing with not one but two explosions, you don't know where that next bomb is going to drop. So you're running scared because you just don't know. Listen, you've got to understand Boston. The Boston Marathon is part of the fabric of this city.

It is a celebration. Patriots Day, the Red Sox play early, the crowd spills out and greet all the runners. It's part of who we are here in Boston. So for someone to come and disrupt this day, it's horrific. It's sad. It's sickening.

CUOMO: And they knew where to go, because that's like Times Square for you guys when this marathon is finishing, and when to go, because that's the thickest point of the marathon finish.

COLLINS: Yes, for someone trying to do bad. They knew exactly what they were doing. It was no question about it, the busiest time of the day down here. Other times of the day --

CUOMO: Worst place, worst time.

COLLINS: Everyone knows the route. If you're from here, at different times, different areas of that route are very busy. At that time, that was the busiest time of the day for that.

CUOMO: Two things. When you saw the type of injuries and the number of injured, were you thinking the death toll is going to be much higher?

COLLINS: I've said it all day today, I thought considering the lives that were lost and the injuries, I think it could have been much worse. It could have been in the hundreds, the thousands. Understand, they found other explosive devices that could have been detonated. Had those gone off, and we're talking hundreds and thousands of people. I think we dodged a bullet. We got very, very lucky here.

CUOMO: Is it true that a lot of people, once they realized there wasn't another bomb, a lot of people turned back, a lot of people helping each other, a lot of people becoming family in an instant.

COLLINS: I saw a lot of that. It goes towards the whole Patriots Day, patriotism. Boston is a gritty, tough city and it is all about politics and sport. And this community, they will come together. They did come together.

Doesn't surprise me that that happened, once people understood the explosions were over. There were a lot of things out there that you should have been proud of if you were out here today. It was a scary scene, but it was one that you remember for a long time. It warms your heart.

CUOMO: Chris, I'm sorry I had to meet you this way, but happy you're all right. Thank you for telling us the story. I appreciate it. I though what you saw today is rough. Hopefully the worst is behind us.

With these situations, it doesn't matter where or what it is, the horrible acts are always followed by acts of greatness by people who can help out. We saw it here. We're hearing story after story, the nurses who did the triage.

People like Chris turning around figuring out who they could help, a horrible day by any measure, but the stories are coming forward. Sure, maybe it could have been worse, but the people here did what they had to do to keep the damage down when the moment called for it.

BURNETT: All right, thanks, Chris. I want to bring in Jason Carroll at Mass General now. Twenty nine victims are being treated there. Jason, I know we had heard from one of the surgeons earlier tonight who said there could be many more operations for some of the people there who are in critical care fighting for their lives tonight.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, just to clear things up a little bit. We're at Brigham Women's Hospital. There are 31 patients that are here at this time. We spoke to Dr. Ron Walls. He talked about the extent of the injuries they're dealing with.

Also spoke to a nurse who came outside and said it's been a very emotionally trying day for them. Another said at one point the ambulances in the very beginning were coming in droves, Erin. Six at a time he said.

Dr. Walls is once again describing the injuries, mostly to the lower extremities. He also talked about shrapnel type injuries, but said he could not be clear if that came from an explosive device or from materials in the areas. So he was trying to clear some things up there.

But once again, even all the training he said most of these doctors and nurses had gone through. Nothing experienced them for what they had to deal with tonight, Erin. Talk more about the patients who are here, nine patients immediately put into surgery, two of them in critical.

Those two patients are very close to losing their limbs, two again in critical condition. The youngest patient that was here for a short time, a 3-year-old, that patient was transferred to another hospital.

What was apparent here is the amount of shock and how some people are stunned. Once again, the people here are in work mode. They're used to this in some ways. They're used to getting in there and providing triage and getting to work.

Even as they're coming out, you can see the looks on their faces. They're tired, worn, they're emotional. What they're focused on now is saving the patients that are here. I also want to point out. They are in a heightened state of alert.

That's what the doctor describes, no longer on lockdown. There are members of the SWAT team here, members of the FBI, as well. The hospital telling me they are doing that out of an abundance of caution. But once again, the focus here is on saving lives, saving the people who are here and in desperate need of treatment -- Erin.

BURNETT: Jason, when you talk about the desperate need of treatment that these people have, and some of them fighting for their lives tonight, we've been under the impression we're going to know tomorrow if they were able to fight through and make it. Is that what you're hearing, that the next few hours will be the most crucial for those clinging to life?

CARROLL: Absolutely, without question. The way the doctors describe it, Erin, there will going to be multiple surgeries. For some of the most critically injured patients, it's not just a matter of hours, but it could be a matter of minutes. By tomorrow, one of the doctors saying the numbers are going to change, most likely again. But that does not mean that these nurses and doctors are working every single hour to save the patients that are here.

BURNETT: Jason, thank you very much, reporting as he said from Brigham Women's Hospital up in Boston tonight.

Fear of more incidents and copy cat events rippled across the country today. We kept getting wires that were crossing about what they were doing in L.A. and what they were doing in Miami, in New York City, in Washington, D.C.

Joe Johns has been talking to his law enforcement sources. Joe, what have you been learning about what other cities are doing specifically in response to today's bombings?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Obviously, as you said, Boston is taking the lead, Erin. The federal response has been enormous, the FBI, which takes the lead role in terrorism investigations, flooding that city with an enormous presence, dealing with an enormous crime scene.

Then we have the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms sending in every available person. They've activated their national response team, certified explosive specialists, forensic mapping specialists, canine handlers and so on.

Most everyone we've spoken with, as you said, at first glance didn't think these devices were very sophisticated, but were very powerful. Investigators are trying to figure out what they can find from the arc of the explosion, the agent used in the explosion whether it was home grown or international terrorism.

But across the country, these explosions in Boston sort of ushered in a cold wind, a bunch of other cities taking a number of precautions, New York City beefing up security, police here in Washington, D.C., as well.

Probably the thing everybody is paying attention to most, mass transit, subways, air traffic. The tighter security appears to go up and down the east coast as far south as Miami, as far west as San Francisco, even Seattle, and about as tight as it can get in Boston right now -- Erin.

BURNETT: Joe, I'm just looking at the latest information that we're getting. They talk about the bombs weren't sophisticated. The FBI saying this is something a lot of people could have figured out how to do. This isn't some incredibly complex creation, that they were ball bearings, zippers and blades inside of this. Does that make law enforcement more afraid, that someone was able to kill this many people and get this far with apparently from what we understand no warning?

JOHNS: Right. It's a very disturbing thing, because remember, there was an element of coordination in that there was one explosive going off and just a few seconds later, another explosive going off. When we say we don't think at this time it was very sophisticated, that means plastic explosives wasn't involved, more like black powder perhaps.

It just shows how many people can figure out how to make a simple explosive device that can have a lot of power and can injure a lot of people. So that's the preliminary assessment. Down the road, we'll know for sure just what these bombs were made of.

BURNETT: As far as your understanding, Joe, I know they're going down every single avenue, questioning people that are of interest to them, no one taken into custody at this point. Do they have too much information as some former FBI agents were saying, because there's so many tens of thousands of calls were happening, that sifting through is it is difficult or are they hoping in now more specifically than we might think and be closer to making an announcement?

JOHNS: It's still sort of a needle in a haystack. You think of the crime scene, it's just enormous. You think of more than 100 people we know of who were injured, who were actual victims. Then questions of how many people were witnesses, just standing around.

Did they see anything? Then you have to look at all the different security cameras in the area. And at a marathon like this, you even have people who go down and work for companies. They have cameras and they take individual pictures of each runner.

What might have been caught in those photographs while these people were having their pictures taken? So there's a lot of work these FBI agents and others have to do before you can start saying you're sifting down and sifting through to get the things you need.

BURNETT: Fair point. All right, Joe Johns, thank you very much. Of course, we should say that in part law enforcement officials are telling us that even though they didn't have any sign of a warning before, they're now, of course, going through all of the chatter that would have happened before this to see if they missed something just to make sure.

Next, more of our breaking news coverage from Boston, we're going to talk to a witness who was trying to run away from the scene but couldn't. We'll be right back.


CUOMO: Right now, we're up here in Boston. There is a massive investigation going on. It's involving federal officials from many different agencies. Boston's finest are still on the street in 12- hour shifts, blocking off a six-block perimeter around the blast zone that took place at the Boston marathon.

We know for sure two bombs were detonated. They're still sweeping the area, looking for packages. Well over 100 injured, many of those injures very, very serious. Three people have lost their lives. Thoughts and prayers are going out in hopes that the injured make it through and continue on with their lives.

At the same time this investigation is going on, people all over this area are trying to figure out what happened today and get back with their lives, the marathoners, friends, families.

I'm joined by Cailin Ryrie. She goes to school here. You were watching the marathon today, a couple of blocks away. You were waiting for your friend?


COUMO: What did you think was supposed to be happening?

RYRIE: I was standing there with some of my friends and her family, and we were waiting to see her come by in about 10 minutes. And then all of a sudden there was just a big blast. We kind of panicked and tried to get out of there as fast as possible.

COUMO: What did you think it was at first?

RYRIE: I honestly thought at first it might have been celebratory fireworks. But that didn't seem right because nothing was over yet.

COUMO: The reason I ask is because it's the function of how you decided to respond.


COUMO: You were looking around and saw smoke. What did you think?

RYRIE: I knew it wasn't a planned event. So we -- you know, fire flight kicked in and we just tried to get out of there and get as far away as possible as we could.

COUMO: What happened when you tried to leave?

RYRIE: We got out of the way and went up to kind of where the Prudential food without is, and everyone was running out of the buildings. They kind of paused there for a little bit, just kind of regroup and figure out, how are we going to get out of here. We went over to Huntington from there.

COUMO: The marathon is all about trying to get close to it.

RYRIE: Yes, yes.

COUMO: You found your way out of there obviously. What were people saying?

RYRIE: It was panic. Everyone was scared. No one knew what was going on. The police, you know, looking at a police officer trying to figure out where to go, and they looked kind of scared and they didn't know what was going on. It was pretty terrifying. And everyone was just trying to move and trying to get to safety, whatever that meant at that point.

COUMO: Your friend was one of the 4,500 or so held at Mile 25. You got in touch with her, she's OK?

RYRIE: She's OK, yes, yes.

COUMO: Was she aware of what happened?

RYRIE: It took her a little while to figure out. She thought there might have been too many people, but she was informed of the explosion.

COUMO: As some time has gone on, what goes through your head and heart when you think about what happened today?

RYRIE: I'm really thankful to be safe and that my friends are safe. But at the same time, you know, growing up here, this is my city, and I'm really saddened for the families that are unsure of what's going on tonight and whose loved ones have been hurt.

COUMO: Your head is in the right place. A pleasure to meet you. So happy you made it out of there. Good luck in school and carrying on with your life.

RYRIE: Thank you.

COUMO: Back to you, Erin.

BURNETT: What people saw and went through, these people coming to run the marathon. I talked to one family from South Carolina who had come with their young daughters to run this race. The mother had been running on the side where she would have been affected by the blast but switched over to the other side to wave to her family.

So many stories of people who came so close and there are people tonight who are no longer with us, and who are fighting for their lives in Boston hospitals. Again, the latest that we know is three people have been confirmed dead.

Tomorrow morning, we can all hope and pray that those who are in critical care, 17 of them, will have made it through and be moving on to the next stage of their long recovery. We'll have a press conference tomorrow morning to get the latest on the leads that law enforcement is pursuing.

We want to give you the very latest we have. We understand there are several leads that the FBI is pursuing. But right now there is no one who is a formal suspect or who is in custody. The nation and world will be watching to see if that changes tomorrow.

Thanks for watching. Our team coverage of the Boston Marathon continues next with "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT." He'll be back right after this.