Home > Publications > Intelligence briefings > Dossier: Explosions at the Boston Marathon

Dossier: Explosions at the Boston Marathon

by Chris Abbott

Explosions at the Boston Marathon

On 15 April 2013, there were two explosions near the finishing line of the Boston Marathon, in Boston, MA, United States. This dossier is a collection of open source intelligence from the first 72 hours after the bombings. [last updated 00.00 (GMT+1), 19 April 2013.]

Storified by Open Briefing· Sun, Apr 21 2013 08:55:57

The explosions

At 14.50 local time (ET) on 15 April 2013 there was an explosion near the finishing line of the Boston Marathon, on the north side of Boylston Street in Boston, MA, United States. 10-13 seconds later there was a second explosion 50-100 yards away from the first. 

The explosions killed three people and injured 176, at least 17 of which were critically wounded. Those killed were Martin Richard, 8, of Dorchester, MA; Krystle Campbell, 29, of Arlington, MA; and Lu Lingzi, 23, a Chinese graduate student at Boston University. 
The devices

Shortly after the blasts, a fire broke out at Boston’s John F Kennedy Library a few miles away from the explosions. Police initially said the blaze might have been caused by an incendiary device, but it is thought that the fire was not related to the marathon explosions.
Media reports cited an unnamed US intelligence official who claimed that two unexploded bombs were found near the end of the marathon course and safely disarmed. However, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis later contradicted these reports and confirmed that no additional explosive devices were located, though police did execute a number of controlled detonations of suspicious devices.
Hospital officials have stated that tests showed no radiation or biological agents on any of the victims. Investigators have reported that the explosions were likely caused by rudimentary pressure-cooker bombs filled with nails, ball bearings and other shrapnel and left in black bags on the ground. It has also been reported that a circuit board and battery pack – parts of a triggering mechanism – have been recovered.
Suspects
At an initial news conference, Commissioner Davis said authorities had received ‘no specific intelligence that anything was going to happen’. 
On 18 April, the FBI released video and photos of two suspects, one of whom is shown in footage putting his backpack down at the site of the second explosion.
Surveillance Video Related to Boston Bombingsfbi
Do you know these individuals? Contact boston@ic.fbi.gov or 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt #3 pic.twitter.com/lgZL6N1Jn4Boston Police Dept.
Do you know these individuals? Contact boston@ic.fbi.gov or 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt #3 pic.twitter.com/QJias1KyweBoston Police Dept.
Do you know these individuals? Contact boston@ic.fbi.gov or 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt #3 pic.twitter.com/hiNbNa4ESKBoston Police Dept.
Do you know these individuals? Contact boston@ic.fbi.gov or 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt #3 pic.twitter.com/905AQJnpRXBoston Police Dept.
Do you know these individuals? Contact boston@ic.fbi.gov or 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt #3 pic.twitter.com/n7PCPoJlHmBoston Police Dept.
Do you know these individuals? Contact boston@ic.fbi.gov or 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt #3 pic.twitter.com/GEpxqO7oeVBoston Police Dept.

I. The explosions

The first explosion
Explosions at the Boston Marathonthebostonglobe
Boston Marathon 2013 explosion marathoner’s point of viewnekoangel3wolf
DTN News – BOSTON MARATHON EXPLOSIONS: Deadly Attack At Boston MarathonDTN News
The second explosion
Boston Marathon Explosion: Second Bomb Blastbarcroftmedia
DTN News – BOSTON MARATHON EXPLOSIONS: Deadly Attack At Boston MarathonDTN News
The aftermath
Aftermath to explosion at Boston Marathonthebostonglobe
Here is some of the awful footage I took this afternoon: bostonglobe.com/2013/04/15/2Bx…David Abel
The Big Picture collection of Globe photographs from Boston Massacre bombings. Some of these are difficult to view. boston.com/bigpicture/201…The Boston Globe
DTN News – BOSTON MARATHON EXPLOSIONS: Deadly Attack At Boston MarathonDTN News
DTN News – BOSTON MARATHON EXPLOSIONS: Deadly Attack At Boston MarathonDTN News

II. Law enforcement responses

Three people have died #tweetfromthebeat via @CherylFiandacaBoston Police Dept.
BREAKING NEWS: Two powerful explosions detonated in quick succession right next to the Boston Marathon finsh line this afternoon.The Boston Globe
BPD does not have a suspect in custody #tweetfromthebeat via @CherylFiandacaBoston Police Dept.
Updated visual of crime scene perimeter, via CityofBoston.gov: ow.ly/i/1TSaQCity of Boston
DTN News – BOSTON MARATHON EXPLOSIONS: Deadly Attack At Boston MarathonDTN News
BREAKING: Federal, State and #Boston Police searching a #Revere apartment building #wbz #bostonmarathon twitpic.com/cjo8r7Steven Bognar
RT @nycsouthpaw: The Revere Fire Department posts details of federal search tonight. (facebook.com/permalink.php?…) pic.twitter.com/FwwlnrTf3PBuzzFeed News
Commissioner Davis: "I offer my sympathies to the families impacted by this horrible tragedy. Those responsible will be brought to justice."Boston Police Dept.
FBI has taken over the investigation #tweetfromthebeat via @CherylFiandacaBoston Police Dept.
FBI taking investigative lead on marathon bombing, asking for tips: 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt #3. No detail too small.City of Boston
FBI Assists Boston Police Department Regarding Explosions Along Marathon Route and ElsewhereA multi-agency response including state and federal law enforcement agencies has been activated and is investigating the cause of the exp…
Statement by Secretary Napolitano on Boston Explosions dhs.gov/news/2013/04/1…Homeland Security
The Hunt for the BomberThe hunt for the killer behind Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings began within minutes of the attacks. Even as local first responders brou…
Remains of a pressure cooker found at scene: @ErinBurnett is #OutFront at 11pE w/ new photos of Boston Bomb fragments pic.twitter.com/yljZsyV1SPOutFrontCNN
EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Boston Marathon bombA local man put in a whole lot of effort to get the right, custom-made diamond ring for his girlfriend, but in the end he is the one who …
Boston bomb probe focuses on bags and pressure cooker | ReutersBOSTON (Reuters) – The investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing is focusing on a suspect or suspects believed to have carried heavy b…
Do you recognize these individuals? Contact 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt #3fbi.gov/news/updates-o…Boston Police Dept.

III. Press conferences

Boston Press Conference on Marathon Explosionspbsnewshour
Press Conference Updates Boston Marathon Explosions, Says FBI in Charge of Investigationpbsnewshour
FBI Boston Bombing Explosion Briefing : 176 Now reported injured 4/16/2013marygreeley1954

IV. Reactions from officials

Park Plaza Castle has been established as a resource & information center. Details: ow.ly/k61vyMayor Tom Menino
“This is a horrific day in Boston. My thoughts and prayers are with those who have been injured.Deval Patrick
I have been in touch with the President, Mayor Menino and our public safety leaders. Our focus is on making sure that the area aroundDeval Patrick
Copley Square is safe and secured. I am asking everyone to stay away from Copley Square and let the first responders do their jobs.”Deval Patrick
President Obama Speaks on Explosions in Bostonwhitehouse
Statement by the President | The White HouseThe White House Office of the Press Secretary James S. Brady Press Briefing Room Good afternoon, everybody. Earlier today, I was briefed …
Boston blasts: World reactionAn investigation is under way after two explosions near the finishing line of the Boston Marathon left three people dead and at least 140…

V. Initial analyses

RT @gabrielflorit: How the Boston Marathon bombings unfolded: a multimedia map bostonglobe.com/2013/04/15/exp… pic.twitter.com/tIQCFVRJiGThe Boston Globe
Boston: Map of marathon blastsThe two explosions came seconds apart close to the finishing line of the Boston Marathon. The first device went off at about 14:50 local …
Terror in BostonRegardless of intention, today’s explosions in Boston have managed to terrorize. Here are Erica’s initial observations: The blasts were n…
EA WorldView – Home – US Opinion: The Bombs at the Marathon — What Patriots’ Day Means to a BostonianThe headlines, the lead paragraphs are stark. The videos and photographs are horrific. But unless you are getting your news from a Boston…
Boston marathon bombings: possible lines of inquiryIn the forensic laboratories at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, explosives experts are leading the investigation into how Monday’s…

Dossier not displaying properly? Read it on