Authorities probing the Boston Marathon bombings believe they have identified a suspect and are now circulating photos of two persons of interest, but the U.S. Justice Department is denying earlier broadcast reports someone has been arrested.
The suspect, described by CNN’s John King as a “dark-skinned” male, was picked up on security camera footage from the Lord & Taylor department store along the marathon route, near the site of the second explosion.
It was reported the suspect could be seen on camera dropping a black bag.
The source also indicated video from a Boston television station contributed to the progress in the hunt for the party responsible for the April 15 explosions that left at least three dead and some 175 injured.
After initial reports saying the suspect was in custody, CNN reporter Fran Townsend said, “There’s not somebody in custody or arrested. The situation is very fluid. They’re working to positively identify this individual … There has been a misunderstanding … as law enforcement tries to work through this.”
Justice Department officials told CNN’s Joe Johns there was indeed no one in custody Wednesday afternoon.
After CNN and others wrongly reported an arrest had been made in Boston, the FBI is urging media to “exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.”
“Contrary to widespread reporting, no arrest has been made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack,” the FBI said. “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.”
Meanwhile, Rick Leventhal of Fox News reported, “Law enforcement is circulating photos of two suspects in this case who may have been involved.”
“They’re definitely looking for them. They want to talk to these men. They may have been involved in this bombing. But we are not showing you the photo for fear of jeopardizing the investigation,” he added, noting that he personally had seen the photos.
CBS correspondent Bob Orr said authorities have video of a man in a black jacket on a cell phone, wearing a gray hoodie and a white baseball cap backwards placing a black bag at the second bomb site outside of the Forum restaurant on Boylston Street and then leaving the area before that explosion.
Orr said the man was on the phone at the second bomb site when the first bomb exploded.
Orr said the FBI looked at the time the man was on his cell phone and then went back and scanned all the calls made in the area to track who they wanted to talk to.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick told CNN Wednesday evening, “Every hour we’re closer [to finding the perpetrator].”
“I wish they had nailed the perpetrator within minutes of this catastrophe, but I also understand from experience this is going to take some time,” Patrick said. “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack as the old saying goes. … I’m pretty sure they’ll find that needle.”
Patrick added it was too early to tell if the party responsible for the carnage were a foreign or domestic terrorist.
“It’s not that this is about fitting some pattern, foreign or domestic or so on, it’s about finding individual pieces of evidence and following that trail and letting the facts lead us to the story rather than letting a set of suppositions lead us,” he explained.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh scorched CNN for withholding details about the suspect, as the network noted the details were sensitive.
“If they had news that the perpetrator here was white, we would have had height, weight, clothes, facial hair,” Limbaugh said. “We would know everything. We would know what radio show the guy listens to, what TV network he watches, what publications he reads. We would know everything there is if the guy was white.”
A news briefing that had been scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday was postponed.
Previously, investigators had discovered a lid to a pressure cooker police said they think was used to construct the bombs.
The FBI has been seeking leads into who may have been responsible for the attack, even pleading with the public for help after admitting they had no suspects.
“The person who did this is someone’s friend, neighbor or relative,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers said Tuesday.
“Someone knows who did this. The cooperation of the community will play a crucial role in the investigation,” he said.
“We are asking anyone who may have heard someone speak about the marathon or the date of April 15 in any way that indicated he or she may target the event,” DesLauriers said.
“If recent history is any guide, if the bomber ends up being a white anti-government extremist, white privilege will likely mean the attack is portrayed as just an isolated incident – one that has no bearing on any larger policy debates. Put another way, white privilege will work to not only insulate whites from collective blame, but also to insulate the political debate from any fallout from the attack.
“It will probably be much different if the bomber ends up being a Muslim and/or a foreigner from the developing world. As we know from our own history, when those kind of individuals break laws in such a high-profile way, America often cites them as both proof that entire demographic groups must be targeted, and that therefore a more systemic response is warranted. At that point, it’s easy to imagine conservatives citing Boston as a reason to block immigration reform defense spending cuts and the Afghan War withdrawal and to further expand surveillance and other encroachments on civil liberties.”
Limbaugh responded Wednesday to Sirota’s commentary, noting, “The left does not want this bomber to be a minority or al-Qaida or a Muslim or terrorist. The left wants the bomber to be white and conservative. And if they know the bomber is not white, will they shut up and not tell the FBI? Is it that bad?”