Boston bombings: FBI says pressure cooker, nails used in bombs

Authorities continue investigating explosions that killed three

Winslow Townson/AP

One day after two deadly bomb attacks at the Boston Marathon, authorities have collected clues from the site that could help determine who is behind what U.S. President Barack Obama has called a terrorist attack.

At an afternoon briefing from police, FBI and politicians, investigators said items related to the blast had been gathered from both bomb sites and transported to labs for examination, including strips of black nylon and nails that may have been contained in a “pressure cooker device.”

“Both of the explosives were placed in a dark coloured black or nylon bag or backpack,” said Richard DesLauriers, the FBI special agent in charge of the investigation.

More than 1,000 officer have been recruited from across the federal, state and local levels for the investigation, he said. “We are doing this methodically, carefully, yet with a sense of urgency.”

As for suspects, “the range of suspects and motives remain wide open,” he said. “The investigation is in its infancy.”

Investigators are looking for people who might have seen or heard suspicious activity, including someone carrying a dark, heavy bag near the site of the blasts before the explosions.

Speaking during a live address from the White House on Tuesday morning, Obama said investigators did not yet know whether the bombings were a domestic attack or one carried out by international terrorist organizations. “The FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism,” he said.

Three people have died as a result of the explosions: they include eight-year-old Martin Richard, and a second victim identified in media reports Tuesday afternoon as 29-year-old Krystle Campbell.

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Obama’s address underlined how much officials still do not know about an attack that has shocked Boston, the U.S. and the world.

“We are clearly in the beginning of our investigation,” he said. “We do not know whether it was an act of an organization or individual or individuals.”

In an earlier update to reporters Tuesday morning, officials said they will stop at nothing to find the person responsible for the attack, which has killed three people and has injured 176 others, 17 of those who are considered in critical condition.

“Our mission is clear: To bring to justice those responsible for the marathon bombing,” said DesLauriers.

DesLauriers noted that there were no known additional threats to residents in the area.

Officials used the press conference to confirm that only two explosive devices were found Monday, both of which detonated along the race course. There had been reports of up to seven devices, but these were false and may have been based on other packages that the forensics team was investigating, said Gene Marquez of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Boston businesses were open Tuesday, apart from a large area around the blast sites that police had roped off as a crime scene. “Area around site of explosion remains closed,” the City of Boston said on its Twitter account.

Police have reduced the crime scene area to 12 blocks from 15 blocks and said they will continue to reduce the crime scene during their investigation, allowing people to access the area, said Boston Police commissioner Ed Davis. “We want you to live your life. We want you to be vigilant,” he said.

But he added the scene will remain blocked off for at least another two days.

“We are in the process of securing and processing the most complex crime scene that we’ve dealt with in the history of our department,” Davis said.

Police twice swept the marathon route looking for explosives in the morning before the race, one early in the morning and another about an hour before runners came across the finish line, Davis said.

However, the course was not secure and spectators were allowed to come and go, he noted.

DesLauriers also said that citizens should expect to see FBI in the area in the coming days and he encouraged them to co-operate with authorities.

As part of their investigation, authorities will sift through thousands of video and still images from around the explosions. This includes footage submitted by citizens and video surveillance from surrounding businesses.

Police are also asking for anyone who has video or pictures from the race to give them to police. “Give us the photos and as much information, that can help the investigation move forward,” Davis said.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino was also at the press conference, where he commended first responders. “This is a bad day for Boston, but I think that if we pull together we’ll get through it,” he said. “Boston will overcome.”

Meanwhile, Boston residents are mourning the dead and patients are continuing to recover from their injuries, four of which required lower-body amputations.

The patients range in age from 28 to 71 years old and most of the injuries were to the lower parts of their bodies, medical officials told the press outside Massachusetts General Hospital Tuesday morning. Some of those in critical condition were in medically induced comas.

Officials describe a “tremendous” amount of shrapnel embedded in the bodies of victims of the blasts, and some of the sharp objects looked like nails, one said.

“There are people who have 10, 20, 30, 40 of them in their body or more,” one official said. He said doctors couldn’t be sure whether some of the objects were broken glass or other debris caused by the explosions, but noted, “in my opinion most of them were in the bomb.”

He described patients suffering from intensive loss of blood, but said the medical community was able to respond quickly and prevent complications from bleeding, which can include organ failure.

Calling it an “overwhelming” and “extremely sad day,” he nevertheless praised medical staff for “responding in an amazing way.”

In an event that may be related, police searched an apartment in the city of Revere, Massachusetts, Monday night, which is just north of Boston. They removed garbage bags and a duffel bag, but they were not releasing any details of what they had found, or how the search could have been connected to the bombings. But, CNN quotes an official who says the home is connected to “a young Saudi citizen who is visiting on a student visa and has been questioned.”

So far, no one has claimed responsibilities for the attacks. The Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to detonate a car bomb in New York’s Times Square in 2010, has denied involvement in this attack.


Latest on the Boston Marathon bombings:
  • Boston University said in a statement that one of its graduate students is among the dead. It is withholding the victim’s name pending approval from the family.
  • Among the injured are two brothers who were standing side by side when one bomb detonated. Each lost part of his lower right leg.
  • Boston’s mayor Thomas Menino said the city “will not let terror take us over” and has set up a fund to take donations for people who may need financial help dealing with the aftermath of the explosions, at
  • A $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the bombing has been offered by Boston’s police and firefighter unions, the Boston Globe reports.
  • The father of the 8-year-old boy killed in bombings released a statement to media, saying his wife and daughter remain in hospital.
  • Signs of solidarity with Boston victims spread across the U.S., including a flag at half mast in front of New York’s City Hall, and reports that there will be a 30 second silence before the start of the London marathon this Sunday, where runners will be encouraged to wear black ribbons.
  • A nine-year-old who lost a leg and a 10-year-old suffering from deep shrapnel wounds are among the injured, the Boston Globe reports.
  • Flights out of Boston’s Logan Airport have been given the all clear after one plane was unloaded and searched on the tarmac earlier today, after reports of a suspicious package on the plane. Business Insider has the story.
  • Quoting an Associated Press source, the Boston radio station WBUR says explosives at the scene were packed into pressure cookers and placed inside black duffel bags.
  • The second victim of the bombings has been identified as 29-year-old Krystle Campbell.
More on the Boston Marathon bombings:

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