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Tue Apr 23, 2013, 06:15 AM

Anderson Cooper Interviews SWAT Team Who Arrested Dzhokhar - Throat Injury Looked Like A Knife Wound

COOPER: Today, I spoke to some of the members of the SWAT team who risked their own lives and actually put Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in handcuffs on Friday. Here's a shot of Tsarnaev as he's leaving the boat, just before he was handcuffed by the SWAT team.

They're going to talk about that moment where he was sitting on the edge of the boat, rocking back and forth. It was a very dangerous, tense, tension-filled moment for the SWAT team. As the case is with heroes, the members of the SWAT team I talked to don't want to take all the credit for capturing him.

When I spoke with them today, they kept making the point over and over this was a team effort involving many agencies, state, local and federal, first responders who also needed to be thanked. They're not after attention.

This is the first national interview that the SWAT team for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority was given. Here's some of what they told me today.


COOPER: Tell me about Friday night. When was the first indication you got that the suspect had been found?

OFFICER JEFF CAMPBELL, MBTA TRANSIT POLICE SWAT: We gathered up the men that we had left at that point and we started rolling to that location to help in any way that we could. We got out there and several agencies out there, already the suspect was cornered and had been hiding in this boat.

Different agencies that were on scene were trying less lethal means to get the subject to turn himself in. I believe they tried numerous flash-bang grenades. They tried some -- they tried to gas him out of the boat. Just wasn't working.

COOPER: Did you know at the time whether the suspect was conscious or not?

CAMPBELL: We were getting reports from I believe it was the state police helicopter, stated reports from them there was movement inside the boat. They were using the infrared to look through the canopy, the tarp that was on it.

COOPER: They have released those images. We have seen the infrared images. They could tell -- because there were reports that sometimes he was moving, then sometimes he wasn't moving.

CAMPBELL: Correct. OFFICER SARO THOMPSON, MBTA TRANSIT POLICE SWAT: He was going in and out of consciousness because he was losing a lot of blood.

CAMPBELL: Which is how the homeowner actually found him was from a blood trail leading up to the boat, he saw a slice in the canopy so he took a peek inside. That's when he saw the suspect inside the boat and made his 911 call.

COOPER: But at that point did you know if he was armed, if he had explosives on him?

THOMPSON: He had gone into a fire fight earlier that day with some of the officers who responded to that scene after the 911 call, some of our patrol officers. And we know for sure there was a weapon there.

CAMPBELL: You have to assume with the events of the last week that there were explosives as well.

COOPER: So you guys get together to come up with a plan. What was the plan? What was the idea?

CAMPBELL: It was basically just to get across that danger zone. There was an open area from where the house was that was our final line of cover if he stops firing at us. We have no protection getting across that danger zone. So we had a Kevlar shield up in front of us and we all lined up in a stack behind that shield to cross that danger zone.

COOPER: Were you thinking you're going to have to go into the boat to come out or was your understanding he was going to come out?

CAMPBELL: It was our understanding he was giving himself up. He was sitting on the edge of the boat with one leg hanging over the side.

COOPER: When you first saw him, what did you think?

CAMPBELL: This is the target, this is the job, you know. We're almost done with this and let's do it. Let's just do what we're trained to do. This is the suspect. We're trained to go in and apprehend him.

You could see one hand was clear of any weapons, but each time he went back the other way, his hand went down inside the boat out of our view. And I know everybody here, we've spoken about it, each time he did that, we had to assume that he was reaching for either a weapon, a firearm, or some type of explosive ignition device to try to draw us in and then take us out in a suicide type manner.

He did that a couple of times, as we were still approaching towards him. We got close enough that at one point, where both of his hands were up, because of the rocking back and forth, both of his hands were up, we could see that there were no weapons in them, no ignition devices, we broke away from the shield protective cover and we just rushed him.

We put hands on him, grabbed him and pulled him off the boat. Down on to the ground. At that point, it just became I don't want to say typical, but an arrest situation. You check the suspect for weapons. Of course him, we had to check him for explosives, take his sweatshirt off because he may have been wearing a suicide vest.

At that point, we still didn't know if the boat had been rigged with explosives, some type of timed device or anything like that just because of their behavior all week long. So at that point we needed to get him away from the boat.

As soon as he was checked for anything, handcuffed, we picked him up and ran like hell to get away from that boat. And got him over to where the medics are and the federal agents, who were taking him into custody.

COOPER: There's a report that he was shot in the throat. Unclear whether that was self-inflicted, or at what point -- could you tell that?

CAMPBELL: I did see a throat injury. To me it looked more like a knife wound. It wasn't a puncture hole. It was a slice where it was spread open, possibly a piece of shrapnel from one of the explosives that they were using the night before. It didn't look like a bullet wound to me. It looked more like a cut of some kind.

COOPER: What goes through your mind? You were focused for a week on finding this guy. You've seen horrible things on that Monday, you know, you've been working around the clock. To know that he's finally apprehended, what does it feel like?

SGT. DET. SEAN D. REYNOLDS: It's a relief, but we're not sure it's over yet. We're still on that mode. We've still been working, we haven't had a chance to really sit down, watch the news and think about it and see what's actually going on. So we're still in that heightened state as I'm sure everybody is, and maybe in a couple weeks we'll get a chance to sit down and reflect on what actually happened.


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