FBI Chastises Media For False Arrest Reports In Boston Bombing

Tom Gjelten talks with Robert Siegel about the latest information in the Boston Marathon bombing.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now to our other top story, the Boston Marathon bombing. It's been a day of fast-breaking news, though the most sensational report today turned out to be wrong.

Several news organizations said authorities had identified and arrested a suspect in the bombing. That turns out to be not true. But law enforcement officials do tell NPR that the investigation is progressing. And here to fill us in is NPR's Tom Gjelten. Hi, Tom.

TOM GJELTEN, BYLINE: Hello, Robert.

SIEGEL: What do we know? And what don't we know?

GJELTEN: Well, Robert. The big news today is that the authorities have video of at least one of the bombing sites from before the bombs went off. And a senior law enforcement official tells us that the video does show a man putting a bag down, a black bag, and then leaving it there, walking away. And we're told the bag appears to be like the one the FBI figured was used to carry the bomb or the bombs to the scene. The bureau announced yesterday they had found scrapes of black nylon that they thought would've come from the bomb bag. And what they saw in this image was consistent with that. And this image of the man, we understand, is clear enough that it may be possible to identify him from that video.

Now, does that mean he's the one responsible for the bombing? This law enforcement official told us the man cannot yet be considered a suspect. We need more than that, he said. He has not been arrested contrary to what we heard earlier today. But certainly, it's a promising lead.

SIEGEL: Well, without belaboring other news organizations' bad reporting, how did those stories get out that someone was arrested and in custody?

GJELTEN: Well, clearly, some of the people who were talking to reporters didn't have the right information. In fact, the FBI put out this quite remarkable statement today, saying, quote, "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." So the FBI is saying that wrong people were talking.

SIEGEL: OK. Bring us up-to-date on other leads in this investigation, Tom.

GJELTEN: Well, the authorities have recovered quite an amazing collection of bomb parts. We've seen pictures of them today. The lid of the pressure cooker apparently used as the bomb container, also what appears to be a circuit board and batteries with wires connected. One problem, Robert, with these parts is they suggest a really crude bomb. A more sophisticated bomb might offer more clues into who made it because specialized bomb makers or bomb-making groups sometimes have their own signatures, which would make it easier to track where the bomb came from. The fact that it's so crude might make it harder to do that. But forensic investigators can do a lot with parts like that.

SIEGEL: Tom, on this day of some good information coming out of law enforcement sources, some bad information as well, we expected - earlier this evening, we expected the authorities to give us a briefing. Nothing happened.

GJELTEN: Nothing happened, Robert. First, we thought it was because the federal courthouse, where many of these law enforcement authorities are based, had a bomb threat and had to be evacuated. But that doesn't explain why a subsequent briefing was not held. Apparently, the authorities just feel too much information is already out there, too much wrong information came.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Tom.

GJELTEN: You bet.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Tom Gjelten.

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