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Feds Deny Reports of Boston Suspect in Custody

Posted at: 04/17/2013 12:47 PM
Updated at: 04/17/2013 3:47 PM
By: DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

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BOSTON (AP) - U.S. officials denied a suspect was under arrest Wednesday in the deadly Boston Marathon bombings.

A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press earlier in the day that a suspect was in custody. But the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in Boston said no arrests had been made.

The official who spoke to the AP did so on condition of anonymity and stood by the information even after it was disputed. The official, who was not authorized to divulge details of the investigation, had said the suspect was expected in federal court in Boston. Reporters and police converged at the courthouse.

Several media outlets reported that a suspect had been identified from surveillance video taken at a Lord & Taylor department store between the sites of Monday's two bomb blasts, which killed three people and wounded more than 170. The dead included a child, a young woman and a female student from China.

A news briefing was scheduled later Wednesday. Shortly before the briefing, the U.S. Marshals Service in Washington said a federal courthouse in Boston was evacuated due to a bomb threat. Spokeswoman Nikki Credic-Barrett said authorities were conducting a security sweep.

President Barack Obama called the attack on the world's most famous marathon an act of terrorism. Obama planned to attend an interfaith service Thursday in the victims' honor in Boston.

"Contrary to widespread reporting, there have been no arrests made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack," the FBI said in a statement. "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."

Law enforcement agencies had pleaded for the public to come forward with photos, videos or any information that might help them solve the twin bombings near the race's finish line. The bombs exploded 10 or more seconds apart just next to the race course, tearing off victims' limbs and spattering streets with blood. The blasts went off minutes after the four-hour mark of the race.

The bombs involved kitchen pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails and other lethal shrapnel. But the FBI said nobody had claimed responsibility.

An intelligence bulletin issued to law enforcement includes a picture of a mangled pressure cooker and a torn black bag that the FBI said were part of a bomb that exploded during the marathon.

Authorities have recovered a piece of circuit board that they believe was part of one of the explosive devices, and they found the lid of a pressure cooker that apparently was catapulted onto the roof of a nearby building, a law enforcement official said Wednesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to publicly discuss evidence in the ongoing investigation.

The blasts killed 8-year-old Martin Richard and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell. The Shenyang Evening News, a state-run Chinese newspaper, identified the third victim as Lu Lingzi. She was a graduate student at Boston University.

Scores of victims remained in hospitals, many with grievous injuries. A 5-year-old child, a 9-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy were among 17 victims listed in critical condition.

Officials at three Boston hospitals that treated some of the most seriously injured said they expect all of their patients to survive.

The trauma surgery chief at Boston Medical Center said most of the injuries his hospital treated were to the legs.

"We have a lot of lower extremity injuries, so I think the damage was low to the ground and wasn't up," Dr. Peter Burke said. "The patients who do have head injuries were blown into things or were hit by fragments that went up."

At Massachusetts General Hospital, all four amputations performed there were above the knee, with no hope of saving more of the legs, said Dr. George Velmahos, chief of trauma surgery.

"It wasn't a hard decision to make," he said Tuesday. "We just completed the ugly job that the bomb did."

Pressure-cooker explosives have been used in Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Pakistan, according to a July 2010 intelligence report by the FBI and the Homeland Security Department. One of the three devices used in the May 2010 Times Square attempted bombing in New York City was a pressure cooker, the report said.

"Placed carefully, such devices provide little or no indication of an impending attack," the report said.

But information on how to make the bombs is readily found online, and U.S. officials said Americans should not rush to judgment in linking the attack to overseas terrorists.

Associated Press writers Eileen Sullivan in Washington; Jay Lindsay, Pat Eaton-Robb, Steve LeBlanc, Bridget Murphy, Rodrique Ngowi and Meghan Barr in Boston; Julie Pace and Lara Jakes in Washington; Paisley Dodds in London; Lee Keath in Cairo; and Marilynn Marchione in Milwaukee contributed to this report along with investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)