Investigators asked residents to hand over hundreds of photos and videos of the scene of a bombing that killed three people at the Boston Marathon and swore they would track down the perpetrators.
“We will go to the ends of the earth to identify the suspect or subjects responsible for this despicable crime,” Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the city’s FBI office, said at a news conference.
The attack was one of the highest-profile acts of terror since the 9/11 assault on New York City and Washington. Police said they didn’t have suspects, and no organization claimed responsibility.
Officials will be working for days at the mile-square scene of the attack, said DesLauriers, whose agency is in charge. He said citizens can help by sharing images.
“There has to be hundreds, if not thousands, of photos and videos,” said Timothy Alben, superintendent of the State Police.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said security footage had been taken from nearby businesses.
“Even as we were removing victims, officers were assigned to go into the local establishments and secure those videos,” he said.
Davis said there were 176 casualties, with 17 in critical condition.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said two explosive devices were found yesterday, and no unexploded bombs.
Federal and local law enforcement officers last night searched an apartment in the northern suburb of Revere, seven miles (11 kilometers) from the blast site.
The apartment is shared by three Saudi nationals studying English, according to one man living there.
Mohammed Badawood, 20, said police arrived at the apartment at 364 Ocean Ave. about 7:30 p.m. They told him a roommate was injured in the explosion.
Badawood said he hadn’t seen his roommate in two days and doubted he had anything to do with the explosions.
“He is a nice guy,” he said. “Quiet and clean.”
Police searched the unit with dogs and went through the trash, Badawood said. Badawood said he left at midnight to stay with a friend and police were still there.
Investigators probably are examining the possibility of either foreign or domestic attackers, said Timothy Murphy, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent for 23 years. He was deputy director of the bureau for a year and a half ending in 2011, when he left to work in the private sector.
“They’ll look at the timing -- the events that occurred in the past, who is most likely to commit something like this,” Murphy said. “They’ll come up with theories. They’ll look at international terrorism, including state sponsored.”
Investigators will create a timeline of events before and after the explosions, Murphy said. Forensic examiners will log every piece of evidence, and bombing materials probably will receive a preliminary analysis in Boston and then be sent to FBI labs in Quantico, Virginia, for more detailed look, Murphy said. Hundreds of agents will be involved.
Authorities will compare bomb materials to a database of those used in other crimes and in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.
Blocks near the Boston scene were cordoned with yellow crime tape this morning, while police and emergency vehicles lined the streets.
The blasts near Copley Square occurred as recreational runners were finishing about 2:50 p.m. local time yesterday, police said. Among the dead was an 8-year-old boy from the Dorchester neighborhood, Martin Richard.
Some victims had 40 or more fragments of pellet and nail- like shrapnel embedded in their bodies, said Dr. George Velmahos, chief of trauma surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. The fragments were uniform, indicating that they came from the two blasts and not from the surrounding environment, he said in a news briefing today.
Doctors at the facility, one of many in the area to receive patients after the blast, have performed four amputations and may do two more, he said.
Authorities were questioning a foreigner with an expired student visa, though he wasn’t a suspect or person of interest, said a federal law-enforcement official who asked not to be identified because the official wasn’t authorized to speak as the investigation was continuing.
The Pakistani Taliban denied any involvement in the bombings, the Associated Press reported, citing spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan. The group provided training for the 2010 failed car bombing in New York’s Times Square.
The U.S. had no information that any foreign group was planning an attack, said Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who heads the Intelligence Committee.
While businesses in the area were open today, some workers were encouraged to stay home. In hotels, runners were making arrangements to get to Logan International Airport for flights.
Witnesses described a joyous scene turned hellish as spectators watched runners finishing the race.
Phil Kirkpatrick, a 59-year-old from Nashville, was watching runners when the blast blew his mobile phone out of his hand. He looked down to see a piece of flesh about the size of a button on his blood-spattered jeans, he said. Then, he looked up to see a man with his foot blown off and a medic trying to revive a woman with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
“There were some very hurt people,” he said.
The blasts at the Boston race, which attracts about 25,000 runners and 500,000 spectators each year, follow several bombing attempts since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, a 21-year-old man from Bangladesh, pleaded guilty in February to planning to bomb the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. In 2010, Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison for the attempted car bombing in Times Square, and Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty to supporting al-Qaeda and plotting in 2009 to attack New York subways.
Nor was the attack the first bombing of a major U.S. sporting event.
A blast at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta in 1996 killed two people and injured more than 100. Eric Robert Rudolph, an anti-abortion activist, admitted detonating the 40- pound pipe bomb.
The Boston Marathon, first run in 1897, is the most exclusive in the U.S. -- most runners must meet a difficult qualifying standard -- and is held every Patriot’s Day, a statewide holiday celebrating the first battles of the American Revolution. Its 26.2-mile course runs from Hopkinton to downtown Boston.
To contact the reporters on this story: Tom Moroney in Boston at firstname.lastname@example.org; Prashant Gopal in Revere at email@example.com; Justin Blum in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at email@example.com