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Boston Bombing Investigation; California Fires

Aired May 2, 2013 - 15:00   ET


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: If we walk out this way, I don't know how far away this is, but it looks like it's a good mile-and-a- half.

There's another active flank of flame. You can see a helicopter in the sky right now. It looks like he's going to make a water drop. Sometimes, they do a test run first kind of measure where they're going and then drop it. We will see if he does it now.

That's, obviously, closer toward Los Angeles. Newbury Park is in Ventura County, so, we have got flames over there. I can tell you right now, because we drove this way, at least a mile-and-a-half that way there's flame just burning in the countryside towards the Pacific Ocean.

Obviously, firefighters are going to let that burn, because you have got some natural breaks, but right now, the pitched battle is here in these neighborhoods in, as I said, the Newbury Park area, and so far, so good.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Paul, do me a favor, and I hope your photojournalist can hear me -- I want you to keep the camera on the flames, keep it on the smoke, as I bring in -- and, Paul, don't go anywhere. I want to come back to you. I have got a lot of questions.

But let me bring in Chad Myers, who I know is also standing by in the studio.

Chad, just help me understand I guess the lay of the land, how massive this area is that Paul's been showing us.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We now think that the fire spread seven miles from the just southeast of Camarillo back on over almost toward the Malibu Hills, and it's going to be running on down probably toward Point Mugu, a very long fire line, because the winds have been blowing from the east/northeast at 38, gusting to 47.

When you get gusts to blow sparks and embers downwind like that, you will get fire downwind, and that's what's happening here.

Let me go to our map and I'm going to show the viewers at home where this is. Here's L.A. There is the fire. There is Oxnard. We will get right in here into Camarillo. We talked about these R.V.s. There they were, more than three were burning. I was watching it.

Look how steep this property is, how steep this land is here. The fire came down this side of the hill. That means it's on the other side, too. On the other side is where our Paul is, and there are an awful lot more homes and structures in trouble here, all of this wildland here, some eucalyptus around the homes as well.

And if we pull out, notice how many homes are involved here, this is entire hillside on fire, and the wind blowing it toward the southeast and towards the southwest down toward -- they are even mentioning that they may have to eventually close PCH today because this fire could make it all the way to the ocean.


MYERS: There is very little containment. Haven't lost a lot of structures, but there's very little containment, and when that happens, you know, homes do get in the way, Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. Chad, thank you.

That is, wow, the fire going down both sides of the hill.

Paul, if we still have you, I just had one more quick, quick question, and that is as we're looking at these homes perched so precariously closely to the smoke, what are they being told? Are they being told to stay put or get out?

VERCAMMEN: Many of these people have been told to get out, and many of them have done so voluntarily.

Let me go ahead and talk to one of the neighbors here. Going to walk on over.

Carroll Benson (ph), if you could come in, please. Your house is one street over from here. I want to know, what did authorities tell you in terms of evacuation?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Initially, they told us just to prepare, just to get whatever we wanted packed in the cars, to get the cars out of the garage so that your garages aren't open, so the embers can't get in the garage.

So that's what we did, but once the fire was evident at the very top of the street and it was threatening the two homes at the top, they said now's the time you should leave.



VERCAMMEN: What did you pack up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We haven't filed our taxes yet, so we grabbed all of our tax papers.

The hardest part was getting our two cats. And when we first left, we only had one, because the other one, she bit me. She was just, you know, like a wild animal, but my husband went back and he caught her. And now she's in a workout bag in his car.

And then a couple things of clothes and just, you know, I called my sister. She's a freshman at UCLA. Torie (ph), what do you want me to get? Well, get this computer. It has all my photos on it and get my senior yearbook from last year, so, really not much, and then my husband's two bicycles. So...

VERCAMMEN: We know authorities were telling people to make sure you grab medicine, mementos, important papers, as you said, your tax returns. How much longer do you stay? When do you decide to drive out of here?


Well, we are out of our street, and that's why we're here. So, we're not on our street where the gates are anymore, but we're lingering because they haven't told us to completely evacuate, and because, you know, not just our house on our street, but all of our neighbors and knowing the people that live over the top of this street where the homes are threatened just so -- with such imminent danger keeps us here so that we can pray and watch and listen.

VERCAMMEN: Well, we hope everything goes well for you. Thank you so much for taking time out. Appreciate it.

Brooke, there you have a sense for just exactly what's going through the minds of neighbors and you heard firsthand what they were told. I can also tell you that I think we're going to get a water drop here right now. Chad was talking about -- excuse me -- it burning towards PCH.

And that's Pacific Coast Highway. We did see flames, as we said, in fields, or in brush, burning down that way. And I think that part of the strategy is make sure you defend these homes, and if it goes and burns down that way and you have got the natural fire break in the highway and the ocean, you're going to be OK.

So, it's replicated in neighborhood after neighborhood like this, where you see fire ringing, but so -- ringing the neighborhood, but so far, I have not seen any of these upscale $1 million to $2 million homes burn down, Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK, Paul, thank you so much there in Southern California watching the smoke, the flames, as these wildfires continue to burn. I appreciate it.

As I said, I'm here in Boston with special coverage here of what we know in the wake of the Boston bombings and the investigation, a huge development for officials here. Remember we talked about this laptop that the FBI was looking for belonging to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?

Well, they found it. Although we're not quite sure yet where they found this computer, we do know that it was not at that landfill where we saw those investigators searching and searching, but this is the laptop that his college buddies are accused of throwing away, along with Dzhokhar's backpack stuffed with fireworks, and Vaseline, even a homework assignment of Tsarnaev's.

These are the three 19-year-olds. They now are sitting in jail accused of helping Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. We talked about those federal charges they now face, but I want to talk more about this laptop and what exactly authorities and investigators can glean from it.

Joining me now on the phone from Annapolis, Maryland, is Eric Fiterman, former special agent at the FBI.

So, Eric, you hear it so many times. A computer really can be a treasure-trove of evidence. What specifically might the FBI be looking for?


Well, well digital evidence is great, and it really helps round out the investigators' picture of what took place. So, in this case, it might help investigators get a clearer picture of the chronology leading up to the bombing.

It might give some crucial evidence about other conspirators that may be unidentified right now. And it may also implicate the men who have been charged right now. If they are denying they had any involvement, the evidence may indicate something very different. So, it really helps round out the whole investigators' picture of what happened and in a very effective and very accurate way.

BALDWIN: So, what if -- and, again, these are allegations, but what if he had been searching the Web for how to build a bomb, let's say, how to use Vaseline and nails, and deleted all of that, deleted his history? Does that matter? Can FBI -- can the FBI find that?

FITERMAN: Yes, absolutely.

You know, digital forensic science is not what I would call a very new science. You know, investigators and law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies have been doing this for quite a while, so they are very good at it. And if someone deletes something or takes efforts to, you know, remove any evidence that they were doing things like this, they have tools and they have capabilities to recover that kind of information.

It's something that's not done just in law enforcement cases. This is a really critical capability even in the global war on terror, you know, overseas when they are identifying insurgents. You know, digital evidence is a key part of what's done there, too. So, this is a really, you know, well understood capability, and yet they will be able to find things.

BALDWIN: We know those investigators are trying to figure out, you know, what his involvement, how he is accused of doing this and why.

Eric Fiterman, thank you so much for joining me here on the phone.

Now, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's buddy now behind bars accused of helping his friend hide the evidence after recognizing him as the suspected bomber -- he's watching in the news, texting with him, according to this criminal complaint. Well, now we're learning he should have been barred from entering the U.S. this year, but red tape apparently allowed him to slip through the cracks.

Let's go to Jake Tapper, our chief Washington correspondent and anchor of "THE LEAD" here at CNN.

And, Jake, what are you learning specifically about his visa issue?


There are a lot of questions about the immigration system in this country, of course, and we have heard the debates on the floor of the House and the Senate. But what a lot of experts believe is a real problem is that more than a decade after 9/11 and after those 9/11 terrorists got into this country perfectly legally, there still have not been adequate changes to the country's immigration system.

These are not people taking partisan shots at the Obama administration. These are people, some of them within the administration, expressing concern. You see two examples of this in this Boston bombing case. One, you have the fact that the FBI interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev after the Russians expressed concern to the FBI and the CIA.

FBI didn't find anything, but nobody alerted Customs and Border Patrol or anybody in the immigration system that there was any sort of concern about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, so that when he went to Russia, Chechnya, Dagestan, as the Russians were concerned he would do, and meet with underground groups, when he came back, nobody in Immigration had any idea that there was anything untoward or possibly a suspect about him.

Now we have this other case where these three suspects arrested yesterday, and one of them, the Kazakh student named Azamat Tazhayakov, he was -- he left the country. He left the U.S. in December, went back to Kazakstan. He and University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, parted ways -- that's a polite way to put it -- on January 4. So, he was no longer a student and his visa was no longer valid as a student as of January 4, when UMass Dartmouth basically kicked him out, kicked him off campus and told him he was no longer a student at the college.

The question is, how come nobody told that to Customs and Border Patrol by the time of January 20, when Tazhayakov came back to the country? They had no idea that his student visa...

BALDWIN: How come no one did?

TAPPER: Well, UMass Dartmouth, according to a government official, did the proper thing and put the information in the system, but somehow it did not get to Customs and Border Control, so they had no idea that the form he showed them was no longer valid.

And this is -- there have been many hearings about this on Capitol Hill in the last decade, and I suspect there are going to be a few more. One of the problems, a government official told me, is that Congress always talks a good game about wanting to improve the system, but they never allocate the funding, so that the government can keep track of these individuals.

Others will say, it's not a question of funding, it's a question of competence by the federal government. But in any case, what we have are two examples of, again, a problem with information sharing, information not getting to immigration and customs and border officials and that having consequences that are rather unfortunate -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, my friend. I know you are digging into this specific issue for your show at the top of the hour. You're speaking with Julie Myers Wood. Also, she is the former director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE. So that is "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" 4:00 Eastern at the top of the hour. We will tune in for you.

I want to switch gears and talk about Syria today, because just into us here at CNN, we are learning Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has just made news on whether the U.S. could arm rebels.

Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon.

Barbara, what can you tell me?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, we have all just come out of a press conference with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. I pressed him specifically on the question of whether the White House and the Pentagon are thinking, rethinking their opposition to arming the rebels, and he made some unexpected news about this publicly. I want you to have a listen.


CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: You must continue to look at options and present those options based on all contingencies with the focus that we all have, I think, in the international community to achieve the objectives the best way we can.

So, we're constantly evaluating, I think, and the president noted it a couple of days ago in his press conference talking about rethinking options. Of course, we do.

STARR: So, you are rethinking -- the administration is rethinking its opposition to arming the rebels?



STARR: A firm yes for the first time from the secretary of defense, the White House now rethinking whether it might decide to provide arms to the rebels. It would be very difficult for them to do that for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the Israelis next door are very concerned about the rebels getting new fresh arms. They worry, of course, as many do, that the rebel groups now are full of militant and terrorist elements, and those arms could fall into the wrong hands, threaten Israel, threaten Jordan, so, very tough. And, of course, the political reality that no one's really talking about is the White House may be rethinking it, but is it for optics, to make it look like it's doing something, or is this really a fundamental shift? Is the U.S. going to get more deeply involved -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. Barbara Starr, we will be watching the reporting as we are covering Syria for months and months and months, and now as you're reporting, options on the table, now specifically talk of arming the rebels. Barbara Starr, thank you.

And now to something that is kind of unbelievable. This mother mysteriously vanishes. She's gone for 11 years. Family thinks she could be dead. Now this mother of two shows up, turns herself into police. We're going to talk live to her former husband about what he must be going through right now, his emotions, his shock, and really just the impact this woman is having on his kids.


BALDWIN: Moments ago, President Obama landed in Mexico City. This is his first stop on a two-nation tour that will send him to Costa Rica as well.

CNN's Brianna Keilar flew in ahead of the president, and she joins us in Mexico.

And so, first, Brianna, just tell me -- tell me about the man he will be conferring with there, this new president of Mexico.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He will be meeting shortly, Brooke, with President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico, the new president of Mexico.

And I should tell you these are live pictures coming to us from Mexico City's airport, the Benito Juarez Airport, where we're expecting President Obama will be deplaning from Air Force One shortly. But he will be meeting today with and having a press conference with President Pena Nieto. They did briefly in November before the Mexican president was officially inaugurated in December.

But this is going to be their first extended visit. He came into power in December, as I mentioned, a very young president, 46 years old. Something sort of colorful, he's actually married to a quite famous soap opera star, so that's sort of something to look out for, but they will be discussing a number of things. And also this is a very significant meeting, Brooke, because President Pena Nieto is the member of the PRI party, which was in power for about seven decades, then went out of power for 12 years.

Well, it's back in now. It's a more liberal party, also a nationalistic party, though, and his party is more interested in having, perhaps less U.S. involvement when it comes to security. So, this is something that we will be reading the lines on when we try to see if, perhaps, there's sort of a new era when it comes to U.S. and Mexican cooperation when it comes to security and things like drug trafficking, Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK, Brianna Keilar, thank you so much in Mexico City.

I was just some getting information here in my ear, as we are getting word now, reports of shots fired inside the Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport. These are pictures. We're about to talk to a passenger inside this airport as we're getting this new information, man shot at Houston Airport, according to reports. Breaking news here on CNN.

Back right after this.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: All right, I'm Brooke Baldwin live here in Boston.

But I want to take you straight to Houston, where we're getting some breaking news. Apparently, a man has been shot near the ticketing area of the Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport. Let me just look down and read what we have from the Houston Police Department public information officer.

A man was shot. If you know this airport, shot in the pre-screening area of terminal B. And to be specific, we have learned this is near the ticketing area at this airport. He describes the injuries as life-threatening. This shooting happened just about a half-an-hour ago. Again, this is near the ticketing area in the pre-screening section of the airport.

These are, I'm going to guess -- guys, just get in my ear and tell me. Are these live pictures outside the airport? Yes, OK, so these are live pictures outside this airport, again, this happening just only a half-hour ago, huge police presence as they have been responding to this.

And as we're working to get more information and get our correspondent up and headed this way, I want to bring in Fontella Colliers, who is at the airport.

Fontella, can you hear me?


BALDWIN: Fontella, tell me, are you inside the airport at the moment? Tell me what you have seen.

COLLIERS: I'm actually inside terminal B right now, like, literally out in front of that screening area. And basically just everyone's kind of, like, locked down in this area, not allowed to move until I guess they give us the word it's OK.

BALDWIN: So, you and other passengers are locked down in this area, this area, terminal B. So, this is after you have gone through and been screened. Did you hear, Fontella, the gunfire?


Actually, when I was de-boarding my plane and I'm coming right around the corner from, I believe, probably where the incident happened, I heard, like, two, like, pops. And I thought to myself, are those gunshots? And then I kind of stopped.

And then another guy was like coming towards me, and he's like some guy's shooting out here. And so I just kind of went back. I was like OK, so I kind of ran back with him. And then after awhile, like, they all came out and they -- it's happening outside (INAUDIBLE) security. Like, we're already threw.

But the guy, whoever -- whoever is out there, which I didn't see anyone or anything. And whoever is out there is firing on the other side.

BALDWIN: So, this is before you were screened? So let me just be clear. You were...


COLLIERS: No, no, no.

BALDWIN: Had you already gone through?

COLLIERS: I was de-boarding my plane.

So, I'm already in the airport. I'm already screened and through. The man who was shooting...

BALDWIN: Right. Right. Correct.


COLLIERS: Yes, he's on the outside.

BALDWIN: Right. Correct. So, he's near the ticketing area.


BALDWIN: I guess what I was -- I was just trying to confirm, so you had already gone through and you were screened when you hear these two pops as you described, correct?


I actually had already been in the airport, and I was actually getting off a flight from Dallas. And as I'm walking by that area, that's when I heard everything.

BALDWIN: What are you seeing? What's happening around you right now, other than, as you said, passengers just sitting put, as we're reporting that the airport is on lockdown?


Just all the passengers, flight crews, they are all just standing in this area. I have seen a couple, like, policemen or marshals, airport security. But that's about it.

BALDWIN: What have you been...


COLLIERS: Oh, sorry.

BALDWIN: What have you been told -- I'm sorry -- forgive me -- what have you been told, Fontella, by the airport? Has there been any kind of announcement? Have police been going to different groups giving anyone any guidance?

COLLIERS: No, they haven't really like given us, like, any information.

Basically, like some of the TSA and airport security is just saying you have to stay in this area. You can't move until further notice. And they're -- I didn't ask, like, any of the, I guess, authorities what was going on, because I knew. But they haven't really, like, said over a microphone or a speaker, like, this is what's happening. They are just saying stay where you are until further notified.

BALDWIN: OK, Fontella, stay on the phone with me.

If you are just now joining us, there is breaking news here. These are live pictures outside Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport. One man has been shot. This is near the ticketing area happening just about a half-hour ago, near the ticketing area, pre-screening area. And according to the public information officer of Houston police, the injuries are described as life-threatening.

I have got Fontella Colliers on the phone with me. She's a passenger. She's telling us about how everyone basically is staying put inside this airport.

And then I have now Ed Lavandera on the phone with me.

Ed, tell me what more you know.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're still trying to gather as much information as we possibly can. We have reached out to federal law enforcement officials.

FBI officials say that they are not responding to the scene there at the airport, given I think the limited information they have at this point. Obviously, that is something that could change here in the coming times, in the coming moments, if it needs to change for whatever reason. But as of now, we're told by FBI officials there in the Houston area that they are not responding to the scene, but, basically, what you have enforced here at this point, Brooke, that a man has been shot there in that terminal B area of the Houston Intercontinental Airport, which is on the north side of Houston, a very busy airport, as you might imagine.

And this is where authorities are focusing their attention now. The exact details of what has happened, what all led to the shooting, we're still trying to figure out. We will continue to pursue that here in the coming hours.

BALDWIN: OK, Ed Lavandera, thank you so much.

And just back to you, Fontella. So, again, you hear these two pops and immediately you think, my goodness, it sounds like gunfire. And right now, tell me, do you see -- I know you're already through the screening area and this happened back at the ticketing counter, so I'm going to guess that you're not seeing any activity where you are, or are you?

COLLIERS: No. Really, there's nothing. I mean, there's no activity, just people waiting and sitting around. And you will see a policeman or a marshal or security every once in awhile come through, but that's it.

BALDWIN: Fontella Colliers, thank you so much for calling into us here at CNN.

Again, one man has been shot, facing life -- life-threatening injuries, according to Houston police, this happening near the ticketing area of the Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport just about a half-hour ago.

We're digging. We're making phone calls. Got to get a quick break in. More breaking news on CNN right after this.