Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boston Bombing

What We Know

Two homemade bombs made from standard pressure cookers filled with BB's and nails were detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013, at roughly 2:49 pm local time, thirteen seconds apart on Boylston Street.

The improved explosive devices (IED's) used in the attack killed three and injured somewhere between 170 and 210 others. The number of injured has climbed, as not all injuries were external, or may not have been as severe as several other (some resulted in limb-loss and/or required amputation).

Initially, it was reported that law enforcement had brought in one (or two) non-white males to question about the bombing. Others reported a high number of people at the scene were also questioned.

The New York Post published a cover with a picture and story about two young men who they deemed as foreign and suspects. The NY Post has defended this by saying the picture of these two men were handed over to feds to pursue with questioning.

The following day, one of the men, a high school student athlete, voluntarily met with federal investigators in order to clear his name from the horrendous act of the New York Post.

Thursday evening, the FBI released surveillance footage of two men walking with backpacks just moments before the attack. There were also a few photos of the men at the race. 

Within an hour, the internet was ablaze with photographs of these two at the Marathon, one particularly damning photograph showed the younger of the two men (suspect #2), with his backpack on the ground at the scene of the explosion, next to a child who was one of the fatalities of the bombing.

Late Thursday, April 18, 2013, police responded to the scene of a shooting where MIT security officer Sean Collier was killed.

Several hours after the MIT officer was killed, police responded to a carjacking and a convenience store the carjackers entered after the carjacking (where the witness/hostage says he made his escape). Officers uncovered surveillance at the convenience store of suspect #2.

Within minutes after this response, a source in law enforcement reportedly informed media the incidents of late Thursday/early Friday were linked to the suspects of the bombing.

Early Friday morning, April 19, 2013, the suspects were found and began a shootout with police, where they also dropped two IED's very similar to the ones used in the bombing, as well as homemade hand grenades. Suspect #1, identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in this gunfight as suspect #2, identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, fled the scene in the car before abandoning the car and fleeing on foot. It was quickly addressed that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar were brothers. Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have also been wearing an explosive device in a vest or jacket, but this information has not been confirmed nor denied by law enforcement.

Much of the area was completely shut down as authorities began a search of the area for the suspect. Conflicting reports were released that more explosive devices were found elsewhere, but have not been confirmed as of this writing. This search lasted several hours through the afternoon on Friday, with many people being searched as possible suspects in a cautious "manhunt".

Police eventually ended their lockdown of the city as they did not find the suspect, warning he was still at large, possibly armed, and may have moved out of Watertown towards Boston or other suburbs.

Within an hour, a civilian exited his house and saw a trail of blood from his shed to his boat in his back yard. The suspect supposedly pulled the tarp on the boat back and saw a bloodied body laying inside and contacted authorities immediately.

Police closed in on the scene, and a gunfight ensued, and could be heard in a graphic recording which we will not post.

Thermal imaging from a helicopter detected a heat signature in the boat as police threw stun grenades in to disorient the suspect. A machine cut the tarp off of the boat so negotiators placed in the window upstairs in the house could identify the individual and try to talk him out. It is unclear when exactly the individual was identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, but law enforcement were confident he was the suspect.

Eventually, law enforcement closed in on the boat and dragged Tsarvaev out alive and arrested him at 8:42 pm local time, taking him to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where he was listed in serious condition from gunshot wounds.

Dzhokhar was not able to be investigated initially, but has started cooperating with investigators answering them through writing as he apparently suffered a gunshot wound to the throat. He has reportedly confessed that his brother was the mastermind of the attacks, but investigators caution he may be minimizing how role in the attacks in order to avoid the most severe punishment for his involvement.

A sworn affidavit was issued and criminal charges were brought against Dzhokhar with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, and with malicious destruction of property resulting in death. The weapon of mass destruction charge could result in the death penalty if Dzhokhar is found guilty.


Filling in the Blanks

There is a lot of question as to whether the Tsarnaev's committed the bombing at the Boston Marathon. While Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's responses to federal investigators seems to end the speculation of whether they were the ones to commit the atrocity, many still believe them to be innocent of the crimes; or remind us that Tsarnaev should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Many also question if we have handled the case against the deceased Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a responsible manner.

Much of the evidence is not concrete proof, and we can only put together pieces of the attack and link the Tsarnaev's by proximity. One victim said he saw Dzhokhar Tsarnaev drop his bag and looked him in the eyes just before the attack; surveillance footage from Boylston Street is rumored to show both men acting out of the norm of the crowd response to the bombs and to also not have their bags when making their way from the explosions. It could be argued that the men dropped their bags in order to flee, as would be the case with many humans, but police did not say they appeared to be in a frantic rush fleeing for their lives.



Opinion Response

It doesn't seem insane to label these two the attackers. If surveillance footage referred to in the affidavit is exactly as described, it pins these two to the attacks. The photograph of Tsarnaev's bag on the ground near the child who lost his life is also another damning piece of evidence. Conspiracy theories aside, it would be rather odd for Dzhokhar to have dropped his bag right next to the explosive device, which is not visible and the FBI has suggested was inside of a knapsack or backpack.

Tamerlan's involvement in the bombing aside... he was still involved in the shootout where he lost his life. If reports of the IED's being dropped and homemade hand grenades are legitimate, then there is not much else that can be said about his innocence. But do not forget the simple fact that he was killed in a shootout with police. Hardly the face of innocence there.

Consider the Tsarnaev's in the same regards as the young man pictured on the cover of the New York Post, who made the effort to meet with federal investigators to prove his innocence in the attack. If the Tsarnaev's were innocent but saw their faces plastered all over the news by the FBI, why would they be out and about with guns and explosive devices and not turn themselves in to be questioned? They were suspects, not proven guilty parties.

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