Authorities Identify Potential Suspect In Boston Marathon Bombings

Authorities Identify Potential Suspect In Boston Marathon Bombings

Conflicting Reports About Arrest Prompts Denials From Law Enforcement

Members of the FBI stand near near the scene of the bombing attack at the Boston Marathon on April 16, 2013. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Members of the FBI stand near near the scene of the bombing attack at the Boston Marathon on April 16, 2013. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

BOSTON (CBSNewYork/AP) – Federal officials and local authorities denied Wednesday afternoon that a suspect was in custody in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings.
An official news briefing, originally scheduled for 5 p.m., was postponed. There were conflicting reports earlier over whether a suspect had been arrested.
A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press that a suspect was in custody. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston, however, said that no arrests had been made.

“Contrary to widespread reporting, there have been no arrests made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack,” the FBI said in a statement. “Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate. Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.”
The Boston Police Department also sent a tweet denying the reports:
The official who spoke to the AP did so on condition of anonymity and stood by the information even after it was disputed. The official, who was not authorized to divulge details of the investigation, had said the suspect was expected in federal court in Boston.
On Wednesday afternoon, the federal courthouse in Boston was evacuated amid a bomb threat, CBS 2′s Jessica Schneider reported. Coast Guard helicopters circled overhead and police and fire trucks raced in around 3 p.m.
WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman spoke with people at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in south Boston who heard over a loudspeaker “code red, evacuate.”
Officers at the scene would not tell reporters, who were gathered at the courthouse following reports of an arrest, why they were asked to evacuate.
Officers in green flak jackets and helmets and armed with assault rifles were standing on the street outside the courthouse during the evacuation. Authorities have since given the all-clear.
Hundreds of journalists were pushed back 100 yards while courthouse workers rushed out.
“It came over the loudspeaker ‘code red.’ We’ve all had training what to do…Get out of the building, go to your meeting spot, so we did that,” court employee Jessica Lewis told CBS 2′s Schneider.
Earlier Wednesday, authorities had identified a potential suspect from video taken before the blasts, CBS News’ Bob Orr reported.
The person seen on the video is described as being a white male and was wearing a white baseball hat, grey hoodie and a black jacket, CBS News reported.
Investigators have been collecting photos and videos from surveillance cameras and other digital media since the twin bombings Monday that killed three people and wounded more than 170 others.
Orr said a person was seen on surveillance video carrying a black backpack and talking on a cell phone at the site of what became the second explosion on Monday moments before the blasts.
According to CBS sources, investigators zeroed in on the suspect using cellphone records that showed who was making calls in the area at that exact time.
“According to my sources, the man can be seen placing the backpack on the ground and he is on a cellphone call at the time,” Orr said. “While he’s on the phone, I’m told, an explosion takes place at the finish line of the race course. As soon as that blast went off, this man then, according to my sources, can be seen leaving that area and kind of just mingling in the crowd.”
Authorities continued to ask members of the public for help and for any photos or videos that may provide any additional leads.
Authorities have also recovered the lid of a pressure cooker that apparently was catapulted onto the roof of a nearby building and a piece of circuit board that they believe was part of one of the explosive devices, a law enforcement source said Wednesday.
The law enforcement source confirmed to CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton on Wednesday that the lid was found on the top of a building near the attack site.
Investigators circulated information about the bombs, which involved kitchen pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails and other lethal shrapnel, but the FBI said nobody had claimed responsibility.
An intelligence bulletin issued to law enforcement and obtained by the Associated Press and the Reuters news agency late Tuesday included pictures of a mangled pressure cooker, a torn black bag, a circuit board and a battery connected to wires, all of which the bulletin said were from the two bombs used in the attack.
What's left of one of the bombs that exploded at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. (Photo: FBI)
What’s left of one of the bombs that exploded at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. (Photo: FBI)
Pressure cooker bombs can help boost the power of relatively small devices by briefly constraining the blast. And when the cookers do explode, they can add large chunks of metal to the shrapnel spray.
“Placed carefully, such devices provide little or no indication of an impending attack,” the report said.
Investigators said they have not yet determined what was used to set off the explosives.
Similar pressure-cooker explosives have been used in Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Pakistan, according to a July 2010 intelligence report by the FBI and Homeland Security. Also, one of the three devices used in the May 2010 Times Square attempted bombing was a pressure cooker, the report said.
No one has claimed responsibility for the Boston attack. Al Qaeda recently published instructions on how to make such bombs on its online magazine “Inspire” and CBS News reports the terrorist group is trying to figure out if the person or persons responsible for the bombing are part of al Qaeda.
Bomb and counterterrorism expert Frank Skinner said the execution of the attack suggests a level of sophistication and planning.
“It was a methodical, detailed effort by somebody to create a lot of carnage and death,” Skinner said. “They didn’t just show up and place bombs. I think they maybe watched it for a year or two before they made their attack.”
Experts said because the explosive devices were planted near ground level, the force of the blast was directed low and out towards the street, causing the massive leg injuries. Most of the victims suffered lacerations and penetration injuries from the shrapnel and metal objects placed in the bomb.
Scores of victims of the Boston bombing remained in hospitals, many with grievous injuries. Doctors compared the unusual injuries to war injuries caused by land mines and improvised explosive devices.
“Almost all of them had such severe trauma in their lower extremity that was beyond salvation,” said Dr. George Velmahos with Massachusetts General. “So, I would consider them almost automatic amputees. We just completed what the bomb had done.”
Doctors say once released from hospitals, most of the victims face a long rehabilitation process.
The blasts killed 8-year-old Martin Richard, of Boston, and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, of Medford. The Shenyang Evening News, a state-run Chinese newspaper, identified the third victim as Lu Lingzi. She was a graduate student at Boston University.
President Barack Obama will be in Boston Thursday for an interfaith service for the marathon bombing victims.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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