TODAY   |  April 17, 2013

Former ATF agent: ‘These are hellish’ devices

James Cavanaugh, a former special agent in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who was involved in the Atlanta Olympic Park bombing investigation, talks about the type of bombs used in the Boston attack.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> james cavanagh a former atf agent who worked on the olympic park bombing mr. cavanagh good morning to you.

>> good morning, matt.

>> first of all what do you think of the photographs we've seen, important or unimportant?

>> they're very significant because placement of the bomb and design of the bomb give you a little picture into this bomber. the overall motive may not be known but the specific goal is known and this specific goal is mass murder . the marathon was just his stage, and so by looking at these devices, these are hellish and diabolical devices filled with nails and bebes and may be directional but if you look at that placement, matt, if that is in fact the bomb right in front of the curb there, it may be facing back toward the crowd. earlier pictures had a lot of people in the crowd so he's really trying to gain mass murder . he killed three people and wounded 176 or so but he didn't kill hundreds. this is a guy who wanted to kill 100 people and that's significant to the investigators and commanders to try to have that insight as to who they're dealing with.

>> let me ask you what's going on at the crime scene the last couple of days, teams of investigators, forensic people are looking for every fragment of these devices that they can find and they could be looking on the tops of buildings, embedded in the buildings, unfortunately, without being too graphic they may recover some of the fragments from the victims themselves. you're confident they can get about 98% of this device?

>> matt, the atf and the fbi and the police bomb squads are total experts at recreating devices. i would gather they already have it put together 99%. we know pressure cookers , bebes, nails, smokeless powder, circuit board .

>> can they get fingerprints or dna off that device?

>> we have gotten fingerprints off of an exploded bomb, dna can be got off of fragments of tape or blasting caps. yes, it can happen. it's not guaranteed but it will be tried first. the fbi lab is great on dna , they're going to be working that stuff real heavy and there's a lot of leads here. publicly they may be coming out and showing these devices soon, i hope the commanders are, showing the pressure cookers , showing the backpacks. if somebody bought two pressure cookers recently, these were likely assembled in the greater boston area .

>> that's what you call the white collar end of this investigation, reaching out to the public, getting tips, looking at every photo. they were at logan airport yesterday interviewing people who were leaving boston saying before you go, look at your cameras, is there anything that might be on there.

>> exactly right, matt n a case like this like the d.c. sniper or eric rudolph case the public is totally on your side and you have to leverage that as a commander. everybody is on your side and wants to help so you've got to give them information that can help. y you.

>> james cavanagh thank you for your insight.