Investigators have video of a possible suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, according to federal law enforcement officials.
The crucial images came from a store security camera near the April 15 bombing site, according to a federal law enforcement official briefed on the matter. Another person familiar with investigators’ work said that, as of early this afternoon, the suspect in the images hadn’t been identified. Both asked for anonymity to discuss the investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Boston police released statements that no arrest has been made.
“They are making progress,” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said in a telephone interview. “Nobody in custody.”
A bomb threat today at the the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston forced the postponement of a 5 p.m. news briefing on the investigation. While court employees were later allowed to return, the briefing hadn’t been rescheduled.
There were conflicting reports among federal and state officials on the status of the case. One person familiar with the matter said officials at the federal court were told to prepare for a suspect to be brought in for an appearance. The person asked for anonymity because it hadn’t been announced.
The Associated Press, citing unnamed officials, reported earlier that a suspect was taken into custody. CNN retracted a report that someone was under arrest, saying there had been a misunderstanding among officials.
Obama administration officials have viewed some of the video that law enforcement officials told them may show the bombing suspect, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked for anonymity because the information hasn’t been publicly released. The White House hadn’t been informed that a suspect has been identified, the person said.
The breakthroughs came less than 48 hours after the highest-profile act of terror in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City and Washington in 2001.
President Barack Obama is getting regular briefings on the investigation and is satisfied with the progress, White House press secretary Jay Carney said at a briefing earlier today.
“The full weight of the federal government is behind this investigation,” Carney said. “But this investigation is now not even 48 hours old.”
The president and first lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to travel tomorrow to Boston to take part in an interfaith service for the victims.
The FBI said there were no indications the bombing is connected to the discovery yesterday of letters laced with the poison ricin and addressed to Obama and Senator Roger Wicker.
Authorities combing the site of the Boston Marathon bombing have 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.
Investigators believe both bombs may have been made using pressure cookers packed with explosives and nails, pellets and other shrapnel to maim victims.
The FBI and Homeland Security Department yesterday circulated a bulletin to other law enforcement agencies showing a picture of a fragment of a pressure cooker that investigators believe was part of one of the bombs used in the attack.
The damaged metal pressure cooker, mangled and dented by the blast, was accompanied by a separate picture of a damaged black backpack that investigators believe may have held one of the two explosive devices placed near the race’s finish line.
Law enforcement officials said they think at least one of the pressure cookers used in the bombing was manufactured by Fagor America Inc., a Lyndhurst, New Jersey-based subsidiary of the Spanish appliance maker Fagor Group.
The company said in an e-mailed statement that it has been contacted by government investigators and is assisting them. Fagor is the leading seller of pressure cookers in the nation, with more than 250,000 sold in the U.S. annually. The cookers are marketed in more than 100 countries with global annual sales of more than 1 million, the company said.
The investigators’ recovery of the pressure cooker’s lid and other components is helpful because they can be tested for residue of the explosive used, 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 first 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 back to where it was purchased and determine whether a similar mixture has been used in other crimes. That can help point to a suspect.
The lid also may help determine where it was purchased, which could help lead to a suspect, Chipman said.
Using 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, said George Velmahos, chief of trauma surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. The fragments were uniform, indicating that they came from the blasts and not from the surrounding environment, he said in a news briefing yesterday.