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Officials Say Suspect I.D.'d; Letter to Obama Tests Positive for Ricin; Arrest Made in Bombing Case.

Aired April 17, 2013 - 13:30   ET


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And to Juliette's point, Wolf, people who don't understand this city, I hope these three people are remembered as what Boston is. An Irish Catholic kid from Dorchester, an 8-year-old. His older brother played little league. His younger sister, who lost at least one of her legs and might lose another one and she's an Irish step dancer, and now she's going to wake up and recover and hopefully lead a great life.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You're from Dorchester yourself, so you know this community. You know the heartbreak that's going through the entire community.

KING: The school is a quarter mile from my house where we grew up. My youngest brother -- I'm one of seven. The other six still live here -- send me a message yesterday, saying this could have been any of us. We're older now, but it could have been any of us. So I think the city feels that. You have a young 8-year-old boy making his way through little league and through school. You have a young professional from Medford in Massachusetts. Sometimes we drop the "D" and call it "Mefa." It's one of the blue collar suburbs just north of the city. It's where a lot of people who don't live in the city, as close as you can be.


KING: -- the 29-year-old lives. And then a student from China.

That is Boston. People come from all over the world to get one of the great benefits of this city. It's great for sports. It's great for culture. It's great for blue collar. Thank the lord it is much more diverse and the city gets along better. When I was growing up and you saw that in the park last night for the vigil for young Martin Richard. Black faces, white faces, brown faces, when I was a kid you didn't have that in those parks. It just didn't happen.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICIAL: That's what the governor was talking about last night, that whatever is about to unfold is, really, this city is as diverse as any city. You tend not to have that reputation. And we welcome people from all around the world. And nothing will change regardless of who this person is. And that's a message coming from the political leadership, and certainly I think comes from people. I don't think Boston is going to feel more paranoid or less welcoming simply because -- or depending on who it is. So that's just sort of a key point to make as we sort of wait for whoever the individual is, which may come relatively soon.

BLITZER: I think those thoughts will be reflected tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. eastern when the president of the United States and others come to an interfaith memorial service, a special service to remember those who not only were injured but obviously those three individuals who were killed. And we're hoping no more fatalities.


BLITZER: There are still -- and I spoke to a doctor earlier this morning. There are still several people in critical condition right now. They're going through surgery after surgery after surgery, amputees. It's a heartbreaking situation. One trauma physician, surgeon I spoke to three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. Army Reserves, now he's at Mass General, saying he hasn't seen these kinds of injuries since he dealt with the injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan. Never at Mass General have they seen injuries like this one or like these injuries. And I think that will be reflected when we hear from the president and the others tomorrow.

We'll, of course, have live coverage. We'll have live coverage 5:00 p.m. eastern later today as well of the news conference. The FBI, the governor, the mayor, chief of police, they'll be telling us the latest information.

You heard the exclusive reporting that John King has been telling us about, a significant breakthrough in the investigation. Details coming in. A suspect clearly identified right now.

Let's take a quick break. Much more of the news right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage here in Boston. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Significant developments in the criminal investigation into the bombings, the bombings at the end of the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured nearly 200 others. We're now told by CNN's John King that there has been a significant development, a potential breakthrough in the investigation. We're awaiting official word. 5:00 p.m. eastern, we're going to be having a news conference from the FBI, the governor, the mayor, other local law enforcement. They'll tell us what they can about this investigation.

But apparently a suspect has now been identified, a suspect who apparently brought a black plastic bag of some sort to the end of the Boston Marathon, a bag that exploded and a bag that contained a pressure cooker similar to this one. A pressure cooker, that inside this pressure cooker there were explosives, there was shrapnel, there was a timing device. The top of the pressure cooker just flew off, landed on a roof and wound up killing and injuring a lot of people. We're watching this story.

We're also watching other important developments that may or may not be related at all to what's happened here in Boston. In Washington, D.C., right now, ricin, it's a poison, a deadly poison. It's suspected of having been laced in a letter delivered to a United States Senator. And now a similar letter delivered to the president of the United States. The president was never close to that letter. It was intercepted at a location where they screen all packages and letters going to the White House. Very similar to the letter laced -- apparently laced with ricin, at least according to preliminary tests. There will be more tests sent to Roger Wicker, the Republican of Mississippi. Now they're looking at all sorts of other letters that may have been sent as well, suspicious letters.

Let's go to Brianna Keilar, our White House correspondent, for an update, first of all, on the letter sent to the president.

What can you tell us? The FBI is now in charge of this investigation, Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The FBI is now in charge of this investigation, Wolf. And they are saying that, at least preliminarily, a letter that was sent to President Obama and received on Tuesday at an off-site mail facility has tested positive for ricin. When mail goes to the White House, it doesn't actually go to the White House first. It does go to an offsite facility. This is the same case with Capitol Hill. Keep in mind, and I know our Joe Johns has been reminding us of this, there are people that have to process it. And obviously, ricin is a very dangerous substance. So there's certainly concern there about the people who had to process this, but this was intercepted on Tuesday.

And the big question now is, is there a connection here between this letter, this one letter and the other letter sent to Senator Wicker and the bombings that happened in Boston on Monday? It certainly is remarkable timing and really makes you question that.

Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, was asked about this during a briefing a short time ago. And he wouldn't rule out that there was a connection.

I think the reason a lot of people are asking is the bombings happened about 3:00 p.m. on Monday, these letters were received on Tuesday. So if you had to speculate, you would think that perhaps they were sent before the bombing. That's certainly a possibility. Now, we don't know exactly when they were sent. So we're still trying to nail down some of the details on that, but if this is not connected to the bombings that happened on Monday, then it's possibly a very huge coincidence, Wolf. That's why questions are being raised about the timing of this.

BLITZER: The president and first lady, we're now told, Brianna, will be coming here to Boston tomorrow for this 11:00 a.m. eastern interfaith memorial service that will take place. They will honor those who were killed the three individuals -- the three individuals who were killed as well as the nearly 200 who were injured, the president going ahead with plans to come to Boston. That was announced, Brianna, by the White House press secretary, Jay Carney. KEILAR: That's right. He'll be going to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross for that ceremony, Wolf. And we learned a little bit about his remarks and the theme he'll be taking as he really does serve a role I think you could say as consoler in chief. He will be, according to Jay Carney, talking about resolve. We heard him yesterday, Wolf, talk about some of the inspirational stories that followed this attack. In particular, he talked about people who ran the marathon, 26.2 miles. And even after that, when you can imagine just how exhausted they were, they went to the hospital to donate blood for victims who had been injured in the blast. He talked about that yesterday. I think we'll be hearing some more stories like that. Carney saying that he wants to highlight how Boston was able to respond to this, to remind Americans and also the world really just who Bostonians and Americans in general are in the response to this attack.

BLITZER: Brianna, stand by.

Dana Bash is up on Capitol Hill.

Dana, we know, for a while, there was suspicious activity in the Hart Senate Office Building, suspicious activity elsewhere up on capitol hill, an individual supposedly walking around with a backpack with some suspicious envelopes trying to deliver those envelopes to various Senators' offices. Update our viewers on what we know right now.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm going to do that, but I would like to start first with some new information that we have about the letters you were discussing with Brianna. The letters appear to have tested positive for the poison ricin. According to law enforcement sources who have talked to our Joe Johns, this is the actual text of the letter said. I'll put it up on the screen for our viewers. "To see a wrong and not expose it is to become a silent partner to its continuance." And both letters were signed, "I am K.C., I approve this message. Clearly, it seems to be a takeoff on political ads, which say I am Barack Obama or Senator Wicker, in this case, and I approve this message. So that is the text of the letter that went apparently to both destinations Senator Wicker and President Obama. Or at least that was the intention, Brianna mentioned -- that neither of them got past the off-site mail facilities.

In addition to that, I should also let you know that since we last talked the Senate sergeant in arms sent out a rather lengthy notice to all Senators and staffers reminding them that they should not accept any sealed envelopes in their offices. And the reason he did that brings us to your first question, which is the activity that had been going on for several hours here. Hallway in the Russell Building, where I am right now, was blocked off. Two floors of the Senate's Hart Office Building were blocked off. And people were told to stay in their offices. And people were also evacuated -- at least the Hart Building, from the first floor. The reason is because what -- capitol police officials believe to be a man who was carrying a bag with some sealed envelopes tried to deliver them to Senator Shelby's office here in the building where I am and also perhaps to some in the Hart Office Building. So this warning from Terry Gainer, the Senate sergeant in arms, says do not accept sealed envelopes. I should tell you that we understand, from our Lisa Desjardin, that capitol police were investigating the person who might have been delivering the bags with the envelopes. We don't know yet what came of that questioning. But there's been an all-clear here in the Russell Building as well as the Hart Building. But it certainly does make you realize that there is a heightened sense of alert and anxiety here, that what usually are kind of ho-hum alerts or warnings that we get from capitol police are not taken that way at all right now.

BLITZER: So, Dana, the two letters -- one letter sent to Senator Wicker of Mississippi, the other letter sent to the president, and I just want to be precise, you say they had similar language if not identical language in both of these envelopes? Is that right?

BASH: Yes, that's right. That's what a law enforcement official is telling CNN's Joe Johns. It's the language I just read to you on the screen. I'm trying to pull it up on my Blackberry, if we want to put it back up for our viewers, while I get it here. Here it is. Again, if we want to show it again, "To see a wrong and not expose it is to become a silent partner to its continuance." Again, it is signed "I am K.C., and I approve this message." Again, this is the letter that was in the envelope believed to also contain the poison ricin. There was a positive test for that initially. The Senate sergeant in arms says he's confident that it ultimately will be proved positive as ricin. It's being tested in another lab as we speak. In fact, we expect to get formal results on that.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to interrupt Dana to bring John King back.

John, you're working your sources and getting more information. Exclusive reporting. What else are you learning?

KING: Wolf, we have information. One of our sources from our national security contributor, Fran Townsend, one source is a Boston law enforcement source, who tells me that an arrest has been made in the investigation.

WOLF: So the suspect that was identified has now been arrested?

KING: We would assume that. I've just been told that an arrest has been made. We know they have identified a suspect based on surveillance video and they were then taking the further steps in the investigation. Just in to us, and again, Fran Townsend has a second source, and this is from one of her sources, that an arrest has been made in this investigation. A dramatic shift. We're waiting for the public briefing today at 5:00 p.m. here in Boston. We do know from other sources -- I was told this morning that the big breakthrough came from surveillance video from the Lord & Taylor Department Store right near the site.

BLITZER: A block away from us. KING: Just a little more than a block away from where we are right now. Right near the site of the second explosion, had a fixed camera. We are told it captured an individual placing and then leaving what they believe to be the second explosive device. Video enhancement allowed them to identify that suspect.

And, again, I have a Boston law enforcement source, Fran Townsend, our national security contributor, has a second source saying, in fact, an arrest has been made in this investigation that we're speaking here in the early afternoon hours on Wednesday. A little less than 48 hours after those two explosions killed three people, injured in the ballpark of 180 more, dramatic progress by law enforcement officials overnight and this day in this investigation.

BLITZER: We're going to get Fran Townsend on the phone and she'll presumably be able to get us some more information.

And I know this is a sensitive subject, John. You've been very careful in your words for obvious reasons. Does Fran have anymore information on the identity of this suspect, if this person is an American, foreigner, speaks English with a foreign accent, American accent -- anything along those line?

KING: I'm looking at Fran's notes quickly. I know she's trying to join us as soon as possible. Here's what her source said. Federal law enforcement source says arrest has been made based on two different videos showing image of the suspect. That matches her federal source matches what I'm told, from a Boston law enforcement source, that an arrest has been made and a breakthrough came largely because of the Lord & Taylor surveillance video. They said there was additional information to corroborate, work on the sequencing, the timing, if you will, from a Boston TV station that had contributed video they thought might be helpful as well that clearly identified a suspect. And then they were moving to apprehend that suspect.

And again, we have a local source, a Boston law enforcement source and Fran has a federal source telling her the arrest has been made. I was told the video enhancement showed a dark-skinned male placing the package at the second explosion site and backing away. As for more information about identity, nationality and the like, we need to keep working our sources.

BLITZER: And as far as this individual being what they call a lone wolf or being part of a broader conspiracy, if we will, we have nothing on that?

KING: I tried to press my sources on that this morning and obviously if they know more, then they're looking for additional suspects, they're going to be very careful about what they tell us. But I was told they identified one suspect. I asked were there more, I was told keep in touch. I don't know anymore information for you on that. They didn't say yes or no. Just don't have anymore information. I was asked about motive and I was told in both cases our focus is on apprehending the suspect. More on that later.

BLITZER: Fran Townsend is joining us now on the phone. Fran, be precise. Obviously, this is very sensitive information you're getting from a federal law enforcement source of yours. Tell us precisely what you can.

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR (voice-over): Wolf, this federal law enforcement source tells me that there is an arrest that has been made in the Boston bombing case based on two independent videos showing the suspect at the bombing site. It was unclear to me. It sounded as if one of them actually showed the placement. But I want to be clear, it's very chaotic. Obviously, this is moving very quickly, but what was perfectly clear to me was, according to this official, an arrest has been made and it is based not on one but two different video images of the suspect at the bombing site.

BLITZER: Do we know anything at all, Fran, that you can report on this individual who has now apparently been arrested in connection with the bombings at the Boston Marathon?

TOWNSEND: Wolf, as I say, information is coming in, you know, minute by minute. But I think we need to be, as you know, careful, because initial information can often be wrong. Investigators are very focused on trying to answer the question that we and others have been asking since the day this happened, is it foreign or domestic? I think a lot -- I think we'll begin to get answers when we know more about the individual, who has been arrested. And we're trying to gather that information right now.

BLITZER: But you, yourself, at least, you can't tell us -- maybe you -- maybe you know information that you don't want to share right now, because you're not sure it is exactly precise, given the sensitivity of this suspect. Is that what I'm hearing?

TOWNSEND: Yes, Wolf. That's exactly right. As I say, I'm gathering -- we are all working together, additional information, but we have a responsibility to feel confident before we do that. And so, yes, I've got some information that lends me to believe they're thinking it may more be domestic related but, Wolf, we don't have enough yet to be confident of that.

BLITZER: All right, well I want to be precise and I want make sure we have it right. It is important to get this information out there to the American public and important to get this information out there in general, but it's much more important, to make sure that we're precise and accurate. I want to make sure that we are.

Hold on for a minute. John King is working his sources as well.

It is very consistent, John. She's getting this from a federal law enforcement source. You're local, Boston law enforcement sources telling you there has been a dramatic breakthrough.

KING: An arrest has been made. Both Fran's federal source and my Boston source, saying an arrest has been made this. And that follows then Wolf the information we have been getting over the past couple of hours. Started with a Boston law enforcement source telling me that, yes, they believe they had a turning point in the investigation, a significant development. This source said they hope to have much more information later in the day.

And an additional second source, someone briefed on the progress of the investigation overnight, told me that they had identified -- clearly identified an individual suspect. That identification was based on enhanced video analysis. Largely, of video obtained from the Lord & Taylor Department Store, just a few steps from us here, a short distance away, and very, very close, just across the street from the site of the second explosion on Monday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Based on that video analysis, I'm also told some video provided by a Boston television station also was used in the tick-tock, if you will, the framing and timing, that they said they enhanced that, clearly identified a suspect placing, dropping a black bag with what they believe to be the second explosive device at the scene, and the investigation was going from there.

I was told this morning, as I raced over here to report, this news that there would be additional developments, and the clear indication was that they had a lead on the suspect. And we are now told again, by a Boston law enforcement source and Fran Townsend, our national security contributor and a great reporter, who has great sources in the community, says a federal source has told her an arrest has been made.

So, again, approaching the 48-hour mark since this tragedy here in Boston, we want to wait for the further details, we want to be careful about the sensitivities, but you have to say just a dramatic, dramatic day and dramatic progress, according to our sources. And we'll get more from the governor, the mayor, the Boston police commissioner, the FBI special agent in charge, and others will be briefing the public at 5:00 this afternoon, early this evening here in Boston.

BLITZER: And we'll have live coverage coming up 5:00 p.m. eastern of this news conference.

Fran, I just want you to repeat now precisely what you have learned from your federal law enforcement source about an arrest. An arrest has been made in connection with the bombings here at the Boston Marathon.

TOWNSEND: Wolf, the federal law enforcement source tells me that an arrest has been made in the Boston bombing case. The investigation, that they identified this individual based on two different surveillance videos showing the suspect on the video, and one of those, at least one of those videos showing the placement of one of the bombs.

BLITZER: And, Fran, so where do we go from here? Obviously, they're going to question this suspect. They'll read the Miranda rights and all of that. They're going to try to find out if this individual, who has now been arrested, acted alone as a so-called lone wolf or was part of some broader conspiracy. Walk us through what the FBI is about to do.

TOWNSEND: Sure. Well, Wolf, they will -- they will take him into custody. They will give him his Miranda rights because they want to be sure any statement the individual may make is admissible in court during the prosecution. If the individual agrees to talk, there will be -- they will take a statement and they will also likely confront him with forensic evidence and things that they have learned, photographs. They will ask him to identify how he constructed the bomb, how he knew to construct the bomb, who, if anyone, he worked with, who he communicated with. They'll want to -- they will want to make sure to take when he's arrested any cell phones, Blackberries, what we call pocket litter, pieces of paper, notebooks he may have on him. And they'll want to have him retrace for them his steps. They will then send other investigators out to try and confirm anything he says to them.

On the other hand, Wolf, it is entirely possible that if the federal agents give him his Miranda warnings, he may refuse to speak or may ask for a lawyer. If he asks for a lawyer, all questioning will stop until a lawyer is obtained for him.

BLITZER: And then the government, in effect, would have to make a public defender, an attorney available to this suspect. And if that lawyer says no more talking, no more questioning, that's it as far as the FBI being able to question this individual. Is that right?

TOWNSEND: That's right, Wolf. But we should also say that the lawyer who has got to give advice to the suspect would also have to advise him that his cooperation, you know, depending on what the government was willing to say to this defense lawyer, whether or not, and what benefit he might get as a result of his cooperation.

Remember, from the very beginning, from the president, on down, everyone has said public safety is the first and highest priority. So the first question he's going to be asked is, are there more devices and where are they. And, you know, and so if that were the case -- I'm not suggesting it is, but it certainly is the first question you want to ask and to get to find any additional devices you would want -- you would want to give him the benefit of that cooperation. So this will have to -- it unfolds very methodically, right? The investigators have questions, and in the order of the priority they're going to ask him, public safety will come first. Second is to identify any additional potential conspirators who may have been involved in the planning or execution of the bombing.

BLITZER: All right. Fran, stand by. Don't go away.

We're going to continue the non-stop coverage here, our team coverage of what's going on at Boston, what's going on in Washington. We'll resume the coverage right after this.