FBI seeks public’s help in finding two suspects in Boston Marathon bombings
Hoping the public will provide crucial clues, the FBI today released video and photos of two men who are suspected in Monday’s deadly Boston Marathon terror bombings.
“Somebody out there knows these individuals as friends, neighbors, co-workers, or family members,” said Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office. “Though it may be difficult, the nation is counting on those with information to come forward and provide it to us.”
He said the two men — shown strolling down a sidewalk behind marathon spectators and mingling in the crowd — are considered “extremely armed and dangerous.”
DesLauriers described the two men as Suspect No. 1 and Suspect No. 2. Suspect No. 1 was wearing a dark hat. Suspect No. 2 was wearing a white hat.
DesLauriers said Suspect No. 2 was observed placing a bag near the site shortly before the explosion.
“Within minutes,” he said at a news conference at a Boston hotel.
Asked if he knew where the suspects went, he said Suspect No. 2 had gone west on Boylston Street after planting the bomb. It wasn’t known where the other suspect went, he said.
He said, “As you can see, the quality of the photographs is quite good, but we will continue to work on developing additional images.” The officials said the images would be distributed to the media and posted on the FBI’s website. Video of the two men was also posted to Youtube.
The FBI asked people with photos, videos, and any other information to e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. People can also call 1-800-CALL-FBI, prompt #3, to leave tips.
DesLauriers said investigators were particularly interested in interviewing witnesses who were in front of the Forum restaurant, where suspect No. 2 set down the backpack believed to have contained the bomb that caused the second of two devastating explosions.
The new details on the investigation came hours after President Obama visited Boston today, delivering an uplifting speech at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and then visiting victims, their families, and hospital staff at Massachusetts General Hospital. First lady Michelle Obama visited Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The president also thanked race volunteers for their aid to bomb victims.
In Washington earlier today, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified before a congressional committee that some of the video collected from the bomb scenes near the marathon finish line had raised questions.
She said there were “individuals” the FBI would like to speak to. “I wouldn’t characterize them as ‘suspects’ under the technical term. But we need the public’s help in locating these individuals,” she said.
“The investigation is proceeding apace. This is not an NCIS episode. Sometimes you have to take time to properly put the chain together to identify the perpetrators, but everybody’s committed to seeing that that gets done in the right way,” she told Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Asked by McCaul if officials considered it a foreign or domestic terror plot, she said, “Right now, we can’t say one way or the other.”
Also today, an executive with the company whose battery was possibly used as a power source for electronics used to trigger at least one of the bombs said that he had reached out to Boston police and the FBI but had not heard back.
Benjamin Mull, vice president of business development and technology with the California-based company Tenergy, said he was aghast to see pictures distributed by national news outlets of possible remnants of one of the bombs, with a Tenergy Sub-C battery attached.
The batteries are made for specialty remote-controlled cars, and they are only known among more dedicated hobbyists and enthusiasts. The company said it has produced “tens of thousands” of the batteries over the past several years.
“It’s twisted because it’s a battery we built for a toy. To have it used this way is appalling,” Mull said. “Not in a million years would I have imagined. I don’t know anything about bombs, I don’t know how this would be used or could be used.”
Mull said his company does not sell them to large retailers, like Target or Walmart. Instead, he said, his company generally markets batteries to hobbyist stores or specialty battery stores.
“We’ve contacted Boston police and the FBI and will assist in any way we can,’’ Mull said. “We have not heard back from the FBI yet.”
The Marathon Monday explosions killed three people and injured more than 170, many of whom were grievously maimed. On Wednesday, authorities confirmed the identity of the third victim, Boston University graduate student Lingzi Lu, who was from China. Martin Richard, an 8-year-old from Dorchester and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, a native of Medford, were also killed.
Campbell’s family issued a statement today, saying they were devastated by their loss. “She was an incredible and loving sister, daughter, niece, granddaughter and friend. Her presence will be missed more deeply than words can express,” the statement said.
The family thanked first responders, medical professionals and others who aided Campbell and others hurt in the attack. The family also thanked the public for their outpouring of support.
Obama signed an emergency declaration Wednesday for Massachusetts and ordered federal aid to supplement the local response to the bombings.
During an interfaith service at the Boston cathedral, Obama received a standing ovation and sustained applause when he said: “When the Sox, the Celtics, the Patriots, the Bruins are champions again – to the chagrin of New York and Chicago fans – the crowds will gather and watch a parade go down Boylston Street. And this time next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever and to cheer even louder for the one hundred and eighteenth Boston marathon. Bet on it!’’
On Wednesday, the disclosure that a bomber was believed to have been seen on a department store video surveillance camera was followed by widespread media reports that a suspect was in custody, was under arrest, and was heading to US District Court in South Boston for an initial appearance.
Journalists and spectators converged on the Moakley courthouse, expecting a suspect to be brought in. But top law enforcement officials denied they had anyone in custody, and the courthouse was evacuated after a bomb threat. After a search of the building, employees and visitors were allowed back inside.
At today’s news conference, DesLauriers of the FBI said that “within the last day or so” the FBI had initially “developed a single person of interest” but had worked hard to determine if that person was acting alone or in concert with another person.
“Indeed, through that process, the FBI developed a second suspect,” he said.
While people on some Internet sites have pooled photos of the marathon crowds and tried to analyze them and pick out a suspect, DesLauriers, who took only a few questions from reporters at the late-afternoon news conference, cautioned, “The only photos that should be officially relied on are those that you see before you today.”
“For more than 100 years,” he said, “the FBI has relied upon the public to be its eyes and ears. With the media’s help, in an instant, these images will be delivered directly into the hands of millions around the world. We know the public will play a critical role in identifying and locating these individuals.”
A 10-block area of the Back Bay remained closed to the public today as the investigation continued, city officials said. The area included Boylston Street, where the bombings occurred, and all side streets between Newbury Street and Huntington Avenue, though those thoroughfares were open, according to John Guilfoil, a spokesman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino. The area extended east to Clarendon Street, and was bounded on the west by Hereford, Dalton, and Belvidere streets.
The pieces of evidence recovered so far include bomb fragments, from which experts have determined that at least one bomb was fashioned from a pressure cooker stuffed with explosives laced with nails and ball-bearings.
The maker of the pressure cooker, Fagor America Inc., issued a statement Wednesday saying the company has been contacted by investigators and is cooperating. “Our pressure cookers . . . are not intended to be used for any other purpose other than cooking,’’ the company said.Shelley Murphy, John R. Ellement, and Mark Arsenault, as well as Globe correspondents Jeremy C. Fox and Lauren J. Dezenski, contributed to this report. Milton J. Valencia can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.