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Boston Marathon Bombers Sought as Obama Attends Memorial Service

Image: Boston Marathon Bombers Sought as Obama Attends Memorial Service
President Obama walks up the steps of the altar to speak at an interfaith healing service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, Thursday, April 18, 2013, for victims of Monday's Boston Marathon explosions.

Thursday, 18 April 2013 12:29 PM

Investigators in Boston focused on video images of two potential suspects, one of whom was recorded dropping a black bag near one of the blast sites. 

Images collected by the FBI show a man dropping a bag near the scene of one of the two explosions in the attack, according to federal law-enforcement officials. A second man is also a potential suspect. Scraps of nylon recovered from the blast site indicate at least one bomb was concealed in a black bag.

The investigation involving more than 1,000 law-enforcement personnel continued as President Barack Obama attended a memorial for the victims of the bombing. Addressing the hundreds of citizens at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Obama said the perpetrators will be caught.

“Yes, we will find you, and yes, you will face justice,” he promised.

Congregants also included first lady Michelle Obama and dozens of police officers and emergency personnel, medical workers dressed in scrubs and Boston Marathon participants in their running gear. Obama’s 2012 Republican opponent, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, was among the dignitaries.

The April 15 attack killed three people and wounded scores in the highest-profile act of terror in the U.S. since the 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington.

Public Help

The FBI has identified people from videos and still pictures whom authorities want to interview, according to a person briefed on the investigation last night. Authorities, who’ve asked for public help, may release images of the two men later today, according to an official. The official cautioned that a final decision on whether to release the photos hasn’t been made.

The pictures have come from several vantage points, including store security cameras on and across the street from the bomb site, according to federal law-enforcement officials.

The city at the center of the nation’s 10th-biggest metropolitan area went about its business today armored by a new apparatus of security. At the Sheraton Boston Hotel, near the bombing site, conventioneers mingled with guards in camouflage carrying automatic weapons. Morning commuters waiting for the Silver Line bus in the South End watched a white truck from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives cruise through the neighborhood.

Napolitano Testimony

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, testifying this morning before the House Homeland Security Committee, said video from the marathon raises questions about some individuals. She added that she “wouldn’t characterize them as suspects.”

The Boston Police Department had “nothing new” to report, said Angeline Richardson, a spokeswoman.

The country is still on edge after the two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured more than 170 others, turning one of Boston’s rites of spring into a tragedy.

Boston’s federal courthouse was evacuated yesterday and swept by dogs after a bomb threat. Police searched an abandoned U-Haul truck near city hall in Oklahoma City and officials in Atlanta investigated a report of a suspicious package north of downtown.

On Edge

Washington went into terrorism-alert mode as authorities reported that preliminary tests showed letters sent to Obama and Senator Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, contained the poison ricin. Suspicious packages triggered a temporary lockdown in two Senate office buildings.

A suspect, identified as Paul Kevin Curtis, was arrested yesterday in Corinth, Mississippi, in connection with the ricin- laced letters. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement that there was “no indication” of a link to the Boston bombing.

News yesterday that authorities had images of a possible bomber highlighted a chaotic day of contradictory information, with reports that a suspect was arrested dashed by official denials. The FBI scheduled a briefing, postponed it and then canceled.

The Associated Press, citing unnamed officials, initially reported that a suspect had been taken into custody. CNN retracted its report that someone was under arrest, saying there had been a misunderstanding among officials.

Bomb Parts

Investigators also identified the brand of at least one of the pressure cookers used to house the bombs: Fagor America Inc., a Lyndhurst, New Jersey-based subsidiary of the Spanish appliance maker Fagor Group. The company said in a press release that it sells more than 250,000 pressure cookers annually in the U.S.

Both bombs may have been made using pressure cookers packed with explosives and nails, pellets and other shrapnel to maim victims, investigators said.

Authorities combing the site recovered key bomb parts that may provide clues in the case, including a piece of circuit board and the lid of a pressure cooker blown onto a rooftop.

Recovering the cooker’s lid and other components is helpful because they can be tested for explosive residue, said David Chipman, who worked for the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for 25 years. Chipman investigated the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 and the World Trade Center bombing in New York in 1993. He left the ATF last year.

Once investigators determine the type of explosive, they can try to trace it to where it was purchased and determine whether a similar mixture has been used in other crimes. That can help point to a suspect.

A metal pressure cooker -- a variant on the more common pipe bomb -- boosts the power and lethality of a blast.

Some victims had 40 or more fragments of pellet- and nail- like shrapnel embedded in their bodies, George Velmahos, chief of trauma surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, said at a briefing.

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Investigators in Boston focused on video images of two potential suspects, one of whom dropped a black bag near one of the blast sites, as President Barack Obama attended a memorial for the victims of the bombing. At Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Obama sat with hundreds of...
Thursday, 18 April 2013 12:29 PM
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