After 'Misinformation Flying Around,' New Video May Be Break in Boston Case

As night fell on an evacuated federal courthouse in Boston, confusing reports had provided a promising if unclear picture of a "breakthrough" in the case: Investigators appear to have just that — a picture, from a new surveillance video, that appears to show a man leaving a bag at the scene of the crime. But they may not have a name, and Gov. Deval Patrick pleaded for patience.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

The third day of the Boston Marathon bombing investigation began with the name of the attack's third victim — as well as new public leads both officially and from the crowd — but as night fell on  an evacuated federal courthouse in Boston, an alphabet soup of unnamed law enforcement officials had provided a promising if unclear picture of a "breakthrough" in the case: Investigators appear to have just that — a picture, from a new surveillance video at Lord & Taylor in Copley Square, that appears to show a man leaving a bag at the scene of the crime. But NBC News, which showed restraint in a day of swirling unformed reports, reported that there was no name for this person. There has been no arrest — that much was clear from the Boston police, the U.S. district attorney's office, and a stern warning from the FBI. Local reports said an arrest was "imminent," the Boston Globe reported that investigators were "very close," the Los Angeles Times reported that the video pointed to two suspects, and CBS News's Bob Orr reported the video showed "a white man placing a backpack on the ground while talking on a cell phone." This followed CNN and Fox reporting, falsely, that an arrest had been made, and that "a dark skinned man" was the "suspect." After all that, a bomb threat at the courthouse left hundreds of reporters gathered in the event some unconfirmed suspect made an appearance outside on the sidewalk and a nation in waiting.

The Latest:

  • Per CBS News this evening, the photo of a possible suspect that appears to have been obtained "won't happen tonight; it might happen tomorrow."
  • The FBI has called off its plans for a press conference to update the media on the latest in the investigation, according to the Boston Police. Like the rest of the news this afternoon, the timing of this press conference has been in flux. Originally scheduled for 1 p.m. and then pushed back to 5 p.m., The Boston Globe reported that the briefing had been canceled, and then postponeddue to the bomb scare at the courthouse. But then, according to NBC News's Pete Williams, who really hasn't been wrong all day, said the FBI were aiming for 8 p.m., which they were. Now that it's cancelled all the journalists waiting can call it a day.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick told CNN's Wolf Brlitzer in an interview about "misinformation flying around" that "there often is in large investigations" a confusion, but said this was an example of a well orchestrated effort. No one is under arrest and no one is in custody, Patrick said. He requested "patience" from the American people so as not to compromise the investigation. "They're making progress," he said of the investigation, "but it's going to take time." He continued: "Every hour we're closer," without providing further details to multiple pressing questions from Blitzer. "I don't think anyone knows" if there was a group involved, he said. "This isn't about finding a pattern," Patrick said. "It's about letting the facts lead us, not some suppositions." He said that he hasn't seen any evidence in the investigation. Blitzer then held up a pressure cooker, on air — "I know what it is," Patrick said, "I'm a cook!" — and asked for conclusions from Patrick. "I can't answer that," the governor said. "When they are ready with a complete picture, they will tell us what that it is... I wish they had nailed the perpetrator within minutes of this catastrophe, but I understand in my experience that this is going to take time." Patrick said he was "pretty sure they're going to find that needle" in a haystack. Another reason Patrick said he was calling for patience "for a reason": "Sometimes when you get a really promising leak, you don't want to tell everyone."

Earlier, several news outlets reported that investigators had identified one (or two) possible suspects (scroll down).

  • Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston, where some 1,000 reporters had been gathering in advance of a potential arrest (scroll down for news reports on video that may represent a "breakthrough" in the case), was evacuated. This was thought to have complicated matters, in the event that someone was arrested. According to ABC News, a bomb threat was called in this afternoon around 3 p.m. Local reports then said employees were being let back into the building after a sweep. 
  • Earlier witnesses at Brigham & Women's hospital evacuated there told reporters that they're being evacuated as well; apparently that had to do with an abandoned vehicle. They've now been given the all-clear. Meanwhile, some good news on the medical front, via The New Yorker's resident doctor reporter Atul Gawande: "it now appears that every one of the wounded alive when rescuers reached them will survive."
  • CNN, ABC Boston, The Boston Globe and the AP at various points within a one-hour period mid-Wednesday afternoon reported that a person connected to the Boston bombing was taken into custody — CNN and Fox News had, minutes earlier, reported that there had been an arrest — though law enforcement went on to insist that no arrest has been made. There was significant police presence reported (by significant reporter presence) at the federal courthouse ahead of a scheduled 5 p.m. briefing by law enforcement officials after multiple outlets, based on law enforcement sourcing and also piggybacking on CNN sourcing, jumped on a "breakthrough" in the case — authorities have apparently made a big break after new video from a Lord & Taylor department store in Copley Square (just out of frame in the Reuters photo below) seems to have helped possibly identify someone connected to the bombing. 

It was unclear whether the issue about arrests and custody has to do with semantics or whether or not someone was actually being taken to court — or whether there may be a second person — but CNN hastily walked back parts of its report, with Fox following suit.

Again, Boston police and federal authorities have said there's no arrest yet:

And here's an official — and very strong — statement from the FBI:

Contrary to widespread reporting, no arrest has been made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack. 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.

Here's what we do know regarding the "breakthrough":

  • The Los Angeles Times's Maeve Reston is reporting that federal officials have identified two suspects:
  • A law enforcement briefing is scheduled at 5 p.m. This has been canceled. 

About That 'Arrest' Report

Multiple outlets reported that an arrest had been made: CNN, Fox News and the AP had reported an arrest had been made or that a suspect was in custody.  CBS and NBC News' sources maintained that NO arrest has been made. The ensuing jumble of information is sorted for you below:

  • CNN's John King had reported earlier that "substantial progress" has been made in the investigation: Boston officials believe they may have identified a bombing suspect. He said it was a "clear identification of a suspect" based on new video, obtained with help of a local TV station. King's law enforcement source in Boston called it a "significant breakthrough" and a "game changer," having been told there is "one suspect" — though this doesn't necessarily rule out a second suspect.
  • Another CNN source told contributor Fran Townsend that an arrest was made based on two separate videos. Law enforcement officials tell WBZ in Boston that "the person has been taken into custody by federal marshals and will be in court Wednesday afternoon." The Boston Globe also now says an arrest has been made, reporting that "official said authorities may publicize their finding as early as this afternoon." A news conference is scheduled for 5 p.m. Eastern. CNN is in the process of verifying its reporting and is stressing that this is breaking news. NBC News sources have been saying no arrest has yet been made.
  • A second source briefed on the investigation told King that department store video (apparently surveillance footage) from a local Lord & Taylor in Copley Square shows a clear facial recognition; investigators had been looking for video of a suspect placing down a bag and walking away. No confirmation of an arrest has been made and no identifying details have emerged other than what was described to King as a "dark skinned male individual." The Lord & Taylor would appear, from the above Reuters photo that appeared on the front page of today's New York Times, to have been the second blast site. 
  • The Boston Globe's sources had also said that a person was in custody:
  • The Boston Globe reported similar news: "Boston Marathon bombing investigation said today that authorities have an image of a suspect carrying, and perhaps dropping, a black bag at the second bombing scene on Boylston Street, outside of the Forum restaurant." They added:

The Boston Globe deferred to CNN about reports of an actual arrest being made.

  • Boston's WCVB-TV had reported that an arrest was imminent, or may have already taken place.
  • Here's a map of where the incidents took place. We've included the Lord and Taylor where the video was shot. 

View Boston bombing locations in a larger map

The Investigation

  • Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that they have not figured whether the attack on Boston attack came from domestic or foreign terrorists. "
    "Whether it's homegrown, or foreign, we just don't know yet. And so I'm not going to contribute to any speculation on that," Kerry reportedly told House Foreign Affairs committee Wednesday morning.  Reuters's Antthony De Rosa reports:

Kerry began his testimony with emotional comments on the attacks in his home city, telling the panel: "It's impossible for me to express my sadness and my anger, frankly, over those terrible events. It's just hard to believe that a Patriot's Day holiday, which is normally such time of festivities, turned into bloody mayhem."

  • CNN, USA Today, and the AP reporting that investigators have found a lid of a pressure cooker on a roof of a nearby building. Obviously, that the lid landed on the roof shows what kind of force the bomb had, but it also could help investigators understand more about the bomb (much more on that process right here). USA Today's team of reporters write:

The evidence is being flown to the FBI lab in Quantico, Va., and will undergo an expedited analysis, FBI spokesman Special Agent Jason Pack said.

The ATF's evidence recovery experts have found blast debris on rooftops and embedded in nearby buildings, Acting ATF Special Agent Eugenio Marquez said.

The Crowdsourced Investigation

After a plea from the FBI to the public for information regarding the case, social forums Reddit and 4Chan have done some sleuthing and find what they believe are possible clues to the identities of suspects/bombers. The riveting piece of evidence is that we know what the backpack carrying one of the devices looks like, and Reddit and 4Chan have found someone in the crowd that day with a similar looking satchel:

The Victims

Boston University has confirmed the death of Lu Lingzi in a statement on the school website: "Lingzi Lu (GRS’15), a graduate student in mathematics and statistics, was one of three friends who watched the race near the finish line."

After tragic confusion in an already tragic aftermath for Boston and its victims' families, the third person killed by the Boston bombings was identified overnight in China as Lu Lingzi, a Chinese Boston University graduate student — but not the one falsely identified by American media. While the girl's family has asked the Chinese consulate in New York as well as Lu's school and investigators not to name her here in the U.S., a massive outpouring of mourning has already begun in China. And as the Associated Press explains, major Chinese media reports are sending word directly from Lu's family:

The Shenyang Evening News said on its official Twitter-like microblog account that the victim's name is Lu Lingzi. An editor at the newspaper said that Lu's father confirmed his daughter's death when reporters visited the family home.

Even though the consulate and the Chinese Foreign Ministry have not publicly named Lu, her account on Weibo (China's version of Twitter) has "attracted more than 10,000 messages, mostly of condolence, in the hours after Chinese media widely reported her death," The New York Times's Charles Buckley reports.

All across social media, Lu's Facebook account photos and messages of condolence are spreading from the East and worldwide, after the first two victims — 8-year-old Martin Richard and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell — were identified by authorities in Boston on Tuesday. Respecting her family's wishes that they and Lu's friends not be contacted by outside media despite her name having surfaced, news outlets in the U.S. spent the early hours putting together a kind of Internet-sourced obituary from halfway across the world. Even the Times sourced LinkedIn:

She went to high school in Shenyang in northeast China, a cradle of state-driven industrialization that fell on hard times in the 1990s, and then studied international trade at the Beijing Institute of Technology, and statistics at Boston University, according to her resume on LinkedIn, a social networking Web site ...

Lu graduated from a Shenyang high school and studied international trade at Beijing Institute of Technology before she went to the United States to study statistics as a graduate student at Boston University, according to media reports, Lu’s friends and her own Facebook page.

But there may end up being no complete picture of this students in her mid-20s, as her family has expressed wishes for no personal details to be disclosed. And while a blurry picture has emerged as a city, nation, and world continue to grieve today, those wishes were more or less completely ignored Tuesday night in a frenzy of misreporting.

Hours after Campbell's family thought they were going to see their daughter coming out of surgery only to find her among the dead, FBI special agent in charge of the Boston investigation Richard DesLauriers said at a press conference that "There is not enough work done to make a notification for the next of kin for the third victim." Shortly thereafter, BU posted an announcement on its website that one of its graduate students was the third victim but that her "has not been released, pending permission to do so from the family." But multiple outlets like the Huffington Post reported in the minutes afterward, falsely, the name of a different Chinese graduate student at BU they said had died. That student did not, but Lu was not the only Chinese student injured in the blast. "Chinese leaders and the government are very concerned about the tragic death of a Chinese student and the severe injury of another in the Boston Marathon bombing case on April 15th," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying told reporters on Wednesday, adding that the surviving student is in stable condition.

Meanwhile, China mourned and vigils continued for the American victims as President Obama prepared to speak at an interfaith memorial on Thursday and hospitals in Boston continued to treat the injured. On that front, the number of critically injured patients seemed to be on the decline:  A doctor at Boston Medical Center said at a morning briefing that of the hospital's 11 original patients in critical condition, just two were currently in that state — including a 5-year-old boy. The hospital also has 10 patients in serious condition and seven in fair condition. "I will not be happy until they are home," he said. "I will not be satisfied." Overall, NBC News reported that 69 victims remained hospitalized in the area, with 24 in critical condition. has the beginnings of a list of victims in the bombing.

The Ricin and President Obama

Speaking at his daily press briefing just after noon — which took on a sense of urgency after a letter apparently with ricin was addressed to President Obama, but which the FBI has not connected to Boston — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Michelle Obama would join the president in Boston at an interfaith service Thursday. He also said on behalf of the administration that "our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families" and that "the full weight of the government is behind this" Carney said that "we will bring those responsible to justice" but that "it's important that we allow this investigation to run its course," and that the FBI was firmly in charge. Investigators are expected to brief reporters in Boston early this afternoon. "It is important that we maintain the integrity of the investigation," Carney said, asking the American people for their continued help but saying that the White House would not provide specific details of the case. Of the president's remarks in Boston, Carney said: "It will be one of resolve, it will be one of the commonality we as Americans all feel with the people of Boston."

The interfaith service in Boston with the Obamas is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday. Stay tuned for more coverage from The Atlantic Wire.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.