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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

New Haven Mayor Reacts to Explosion at Yale

Aired May 21, 2003 - 18:31   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "MONEYLINE": If you wouldn't mind waiting just (UNINTELLIGIBLE) perhaps can continue this conversation. We're going now to Mayor John DeStefano at -- the mayor of New Haven at Yale University.
JOHN DESTEFANO, MAYOR OF NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT: I'm going to share with you what we know about what's happened. I'm going to tell you everything I know, and I don't know that either of us will have anything much more to offer. If you have questions, we know the answer, we'll tell you. If we don't know the answer, we'll tell you. And, if something happens between now and let's say before 10:00, we'll let you know through both the city and Yale press offices to bring you up to speed.

Let me say a word about what's going on, on the campus right now. Basically, very little. Exams are over. The dorms are empty. Some of the buildings around the campus are open -- the library, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you can walk through. But basically, there's not anything going on. There's no programming going on, on the campus right now. It's a very quiet, quiet time. At 4:40, we had a report of an incident at the law school.

I'll tell you I've been into that space and what happened is in a classroom there was an explosion, and it caused some damage inside that classroom and in an adjacent classroom where the wall between the two classrooms fell in. There's no structural damage. There's some water damage around the side. The windows weren't blown out of the space. The wall dividing the classrooms did come down, but as far as we could see, that was it. No one was hurt.

The building was being used for exams in the morning. The building was open. You could have entered the building, but it doesn't appear there was anyone in the classroom at the time of the incident. Right now, what the New Haven Fire Department is doing with some other agencies are just checking out the rest of the building. Making sure that there's nothing going -- there's no other thing to be concerned about in the building. We have not shut down the buildings around it largely because they're empty and they have been empty.

When the fire department is out of there having checked to secure the building, the New Haven Police Department working with the FBI will be conducting a joint investigation. The NHPD will be in the lead on that investigation to figure out what happened inside. I will tell you as much as I know, which is we suspect it was some kind of device that caused the explosion. But I'll tell you again having been in the room, having seen it myself, it was contained to the classroom and to the immediately adjacent classroom to the space. We will be here we think for about 24 hours, and that's just simply to go around through the immediately adjacent buildings, which we haven't started doing yet and we will be doing shortly.

We don't expect it to be anything other than what it is right now. We have no reason to believe it's anything other than what it is right at this moment. And that's all we presume it to be.

QUESTION: Mayor...

DESTEFANO: And so, we'll try to answer questions. And -- but I'm going to be free to say I don't know if I don't know.

(CROSSTALK)

DESTEFANO: Let's do it one at a time. Go ahead.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) do you have any reason to believe that somebody was targeted or has the New Haven Police Department received any threats prior to this and maybe have a reason to believe that...

DESTEFANO: No and -- no and more to the point, there wasn't anyone here and, so no. Yes?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Why do you say you don't have any reason to believe it's more than it is? But, what is it? There's a device that caused an explosion. Well, what more could it be?

DESTEFANO: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Let's be clear what I said. I just ask you guys to work with me.

QUESTION: Right.

DESTEFANO: What I said is we haven't confirmed it to be an explosive device. I'm being -- sharing as much information I have with you. We think that's what it is. We have no other information to suggest anything else about it at this point in time. And we've not received any communication that suggest...

(CROSSTALK)

DESTEFANO: One at a time. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Any injuries, mayor?

DESTEFANO: No injuries. No one was hurt. Again, the campus is pretty empty at this point in time.

QUESTION: What makes you believe it's a device, Mayor (OFF- MIKE)?

DESTEFANO: I'm relying on what the fire department told me...

QUESTION: Wasn't there kind of debris from a device that was found or something?

DESTEFANO: I can't speak to it. I asked the fire department and talked to them about what we should characterize this as. We suspect it's that. We haven't confirmed that. When we find that out, we'll let you know for certain.

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: Mayor John DeStefano, the mayor of New Haven, Connecticut. New Haven, of course, the home of Yale University where an explosion rocked a classroom and an adjacent classroom about 5:00 this afternoon. At this point, the mayor saying that he won't go beyond saying what it is what it is, but as one of the reporters there at that news conference asked, we're not entirely sure what it is. We do know it was an explosion. There have been no injuries. The joint terrorism task force has dispatched a team to Yale University.

But, at this point, very little information and of course, here at CNN, we'll be bringing to you any details as they are -- as we are made aware of them. Again, Mayor John DeStefano at New Haven, the mayor of New Haven on that explosion.

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