Seventy-two hours after twin explosions rocked the finish line of the Boston Marathon—killing three innocent spectators and injuring more than 170 others—the FBI has released photographs and surveillance video of two potential “suspects.” It is the clearest indication yet that Monday’s heinous attack was a terrorist conspiracy, and not the wrath of someone working alone.
Dressed in dark jackets, black shoes and baseball caps, both men appear to be in their 20s or early 30s. At first glance, they look completely average, blending into the crowd like everyone else gathered along the race route. But Special Agent Richard DesLauriers, head of the FBI’s Boston field office, told a packed news conference Thursday afternoon that one of the men—“Suspect Two,” sporting a backwards white cap and a knapsack on his right shoulder—was caught on tape dropping his bag near the sight of the second blast. In separate surveillance footage, “Suspect One” and “Suspect Two” appear to be walking together, one behind the other, toward the finish line.
“We consider them to be armed and extremely dangerous,” DesLauriers said. “No one should approach them. No one should attempt to apprehend them except law enforcement. Let me reiterate that caution: do not take any action on your own.”
“Suspect One” wore a white V-neck T-shirt with khaki pants; his backpack was on both shoulders. “Suspect Two” has a distinctive pointy noise and shaggy dark hair. The FBI is asking anyone with information, “no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential,” to call a designated tip line (1-800-225-5324). “We know the public will play a critical role in identifying and locating these individuals,” DesLauriers continued. “Somebody out there knows these individuals as friends, neighbours, co-workers, or family members. Though it may be difficult, the nation is counting on those with information to come forward and provide it to us.”
The two bombs—crude devices believed to be made of pressure cookers stuffed with nails, ball bearings another projectiles—detonated 12 seconds apart, just before 3 p.m. Like an improvised explosive device found on the battlefields of Afghanistan, the blasts ripped apart limbs and filled the sidewalks with blood and debris. Among the dead was an eight-year-old boy, Martin Richard, whose mother and sister are still recovering in hospital. Krystle Campbell, 29, and Lingzi Lu, a Chinese exchange student studying at Boston University, also perished.
From the outside, the ensuing investigation has appeared disjointed, even bumbling. On Wednesday, numerous news outlets reported that a suspect was in custody and on his way to court—only to retract after the FBI, and other senior U.S. officials, insisted it wasn’t true. But Thursday’s photographic release, barely three days after the tragedy, is proof of the intense, fruitful police work going on behind closed doors. From an investigative standpoint, things could not be moving much faster.
Before the last casualty was even whisked away to a hospital Monday afternoon, forensic teams were on site, sifting through the wreckage and collecting critical bits of evidence. By the very next day, authorities had released unprecedented photographs of the bomb parts found at the crime scene—the kind of images typically saved for court. And on Thursday, after poring through thousands of cellphone photos, media footage and security camera clips, investigators have a fairly certain idea of who they need to find.
As is typical in ongoing investigations, especially one of this magnitude, the FBI provided few new details other than the images. (The press conference itself was less than 10 minutes.) But DesLauriers did reveal that his team originally identified “a single person of interest.” Only when investigators analyzed the footage again did they discover a potential accomplice. “Not knowing if the individual was acting alone or in concert with others, we obviously worked with extreme purpose to make that determination,” he said. “After a very detailed analysis of photo, video and other evidence, we are releasing photos of these two suspects.”
In his prepared remarks, DesLauriers also pointed out the obvious: “With the media’s help, in an instant, these images will be delivered directly into the hands of millions around the world.”
Including, no doubt, the men at the centre of the manhunt.
Suspect 1 is in the ball cap:
Suspect 2 is in the white hat: