Transcript: Boston Marathon bombing Q&A – afternoon press conference on April 16, 2013

Partial transcript of Q&A on the Boston Marathon bombing attack. The afternoon press briefing was held on April 16, 2013:

Question:
…Are you looking for one person?

FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick DesLauriers:
I believe I mentioned in my statement we don’t have any definitive information regarding suspects or subjects. It could be a person; it could be persons. We don’t have any – we have not reached any conclusions on that at all in that regard.

Question:
Commissioner Davis, you run this event year after year presumably with a sound security plan. Can you talk about what happened this year? What went wrong? And do you that these people may have been planning this for many years?

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis:
The second part of that question will be answered by the investigation. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to determine exactly how this incident occurred.

We plan this incident like we do every incident in the City of Boston. We work very closely with our federal partners, the intelligence services. Each incident is vetted very carefully. There’s a specific plan put together. This particular plan was very well thought out and executed, and there were officers assigned to this race than we’ve ever assigned before. And we were particularly concerned with the finish line this year and assigned more officers down in that area. I think if you look at the videotapes you can see that. So we have a lot of time to vet all these plans and to determine exactly what happened here but this is going to be an integral part of the ongoing investigation.

Question:
Did something go wrong here though with your plan? Was there a weakness that…exploitable? [Muffled audio]

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis:
Well, you know, this is a soft target. And so anybody can go to a church service and do this type of thing. When you have an event like this, you can’t lock it down like it’s a military operation. It needs to be open to the public. There’s commerce occurring up and down that parade route. And by the virtue of the type of event this is, it requires that we don’t turn these events into a police state. So we struck what we believed to be the appropriate balance. We’ll review all of that. We’ll come to some conclusions down the road. But this investigation is really our priority right now.

Question:
…Governor, your comments a few minutes ago about targeting groups unfairly. Are you suggesting that that situation is in fact happening?

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick:
No, we haven’t actually had any complaints but the U.S. Attorney and I were talking earlier about those concerns and just wanted to remind people this is a time to be – to show that sensitivity.

Question:
Was black nylon residue found at both of the bomb blasts? What specifically can you tell us about… [inaudible audio]?

FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick DesLauriers:
No, I believe I said pressure cooker. Possibly a pressure cooker. Black nylon bags possibly at both sites. Yes, black nylon bags as opposed to I think you said residue.

Question:
[inaudible]

FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick DesLauriers:
I can’t characterize the specifics of that. We’re postulating that they need to be heavy bags to carry that explosive devices inside of them. They would not be light bags.

Question:
[inaudible]

FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick DesLauriers:
I think that would be speculation right now before the evidentiary review is complete.

Question:
Did you find a circuit board or fragment of a circuit board or anything that might get it a detonation?

FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick DesLauriers:
The evidentiary review is still ongoing right and I wouldn’t want to speculate or characterize anything more than I already have.

Question:
How uncommon is it at this point in the investigation in this type of attack not to have anybody come forward?

FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick DesLauriers:
It’s…there are a variety of reasons why. This is a very complicated investigation. It is going to be pursued methodically, carefully, diligently but with a sense of urgency…And we are barely 24 hours on into this investigation. So I would say this is still in its early, early stages, and that’s the best way I can characterize that right now.

Question:
Has the city or state ever issued guidelines for commercial property owners on how to deal with these kind of attacks…? Are you willing to do that going forward if you haven’t? [Inaudible]…Will you encourage them to do so with reinforced glass windows…?

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick:
…So I don’t frankly know the answer to the first question other than the guidance that folks along the route get in preparation for a specific events. In terms of how we go forward, I’d just like to remind everyone we’ve had 116 years of incident-free marathons, and every year we have learned from the last experience. This is a painful and tragic lesson but we will learn from this as well. And next year’s marathon will be even bigger and better.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis:
We don’t make specific estimates on crowd but tens of thousands of people are right at the finish line, and this group of people extends off-and-on for 26.2 miles.

Question:
…24 hours later, how much closer are you finding out who did this?

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis:
There’s been a lot of work done. They are literally going over the crime scene with a fine tooth comb, and there’s a lot of information that’s coming from the evidence and from our analysis of video. But it’s very early in the investigation. As Mr. DesLauriers said quite clearly, this has to be a methodical investigation that is not a rush to any particular end, that we have to be very cautious here.

Question:
Knowing what you know about the devices now, are these things bomb sniffing dogs couldn’t find?

FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick DesLauriers:
I couldn’t speculate on that right now. Again, we’re still in the process – as Commissioner Davis just mentioned, we’re still in the process of going through the evidentiary review at the crime scene. That process is not completed yet. It is ongoing, and I wouldn’t want to speculate or characterize that any more until that process is complete.

Question:
Mayor Menino, do you know anyone who was hurt and have you spoken to the families of anyone who was killed?

Boston Mayor Tom Menino:
Yes. I visited several of the families this afternoon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. And, you know, they’re very strong. They’re – victims’ families needed some help. But a young woman I saw there who lost her leg she had a lot of courage – I think they’re hanging in there. And we’re offering all the kinds of help we can both the medical but also the city help that we’ll be there for them. Those families, you know, they’re going through a very difficult times now. We as a city, we as individuals have to support them the best we can.

Question:
Do you know that any of the families…who lost…?

Boston Mayor Tom Menino:
Yes, I did. I did.

Question:
Is there anything you can say about the people who were lost?

Boston Mayor Tom Menino:
No. No, you know – guys, you want to know my answer? Some of these things are personal things, and when we get down to things like that it’s very personal…you know, get into facts of conversations with victims we know personally.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis:
Well, as the Governor said, we review each one of these events, and at the end of our review last year, we determined that the crowds were larger than usual. And so we put extra officers at the event, especially towards the end of the race and especially when the runners were first coming in. But as I said, if you review the pictures and the videotape, there was a significant amount of police presence there. The officers are lining the route, looking into the crowd, which is what their job is.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis:
No, as I said, we talked to our federal and state partners. There was no specific threat about this event. This was a standard threat picture. After 9/11, we’re certainly very vigilant but there was nothing specific about this particular event. We had teams of undercover officers in the crowd working the crowd at the end of the race, which is standard procedure because of pickpockets that occur in that area. Those teams were out there; they were fully deployed as were our EOD dogs, which were in the area all through the race.

Question:
There’s a mention of circuitry or circuit board kind of device that was…[inaudible]…swab the residue and know the agent that was used in the explosive. Is that something you want to share with the store owners…[inaudible]?

FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick DesLauriers:
No, I think the circuit board was brought up by a member of the media right here and not in my remarks. I’m not prepared to speak to that – any aspect pertaining to that right now. But certainly going out to the community, conducting a logical investigation, I can assure you that the Joint Terrorism Task Force is doing that as we speak.

Question:
…Whether it took a lot of planning to do this? That they may have been planning for many years?

FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick DesLauriers:
Again, hopefully that will come out in the investigation. Again, that would be speculation on my part right now to speculate how much planning went into this. I do not want to provide you with anything that might be inaccurate information ultimately so I wouldn’t want to speculate on that.

Question:
[Inaudible]

FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick DesLauriers:
Commissioner Davis advises me that there is not enough work done right now to make a notification to the next of kin for the third victim.

Question:
How many parcels or remnants you may have found? One on each site? Can you just be clear on that? And two, given your discussion of pressure cookers – what’s the sophistication of that? Is this something that can be made in a basement or…?

FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick DesLauriers:
No, I think pressure cookers…familiar with those as relatively ordinary cooking devices historically, going back several years. As far as precisely what evidence was found at what location, I wouldn’t want to go into details of that right now. There are multiple pieces of evidence that are at the crime scene as you might well imagine from the serious tragic nature of this event. That analysis is ongoing right now. I wouldn’t – again, as I mentioned before, I wouldn’t want to provide you with inaccurate information right now as to whether specific pieces of information were found at both crime scenes. Information that could possibly be a pressure cooker was found at the site and we are putting that out to the public in an attempt to generate any lead information.

Question:
When will the National Guard be gone from the city?

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick:
When will the National Guard be gone? When they’re not needed any more. The job of the National Guard is to secure the crime scene. The work of going through the crime scene continues. We’re not going to rush that. That will involve some inconvenience to people but I can’t tell you when that work will be finished. The other thing the National Guard is doing is helping with the random bag checks in the T and that’ll continue for the next day or so anyhow.

Question:
[Inaudible]

FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick DesLauriers:
We have had a tremendous outpouring of support from the public in terms of videos that have been submitted to us. It has been tremendous. And we are analyzing that right now, taking a look at it. We are bringing specialists up from Quantico to assist us, who are video-digital analysis experts, and we are bringing the best possible resources that the FBI can bring to bear to Boston to participate in that very aspect of this investigation.

Question:
[Inaudible]

FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick DesLauriers:
It’s various video submissions of the area around the crime scene – crime scenes – that were taken around the time of the blasts, both before and afterwards. All videos like this we encourage the public and particularly business owners in that area to continue to submit this information. This is very, very important, and we thank the citizens of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for submitting this information.

Question:
Can we hear from the ATF please about what the potential explosive might be that was used? Many witnesses said they smelled something like gun powder.

Unidentified ATF official:
Yes, that’s correct. That has been reported – that type of smell. But we’re not prepared yet to go into the specifics as to the blast scene. It’s a fairly expansive large scene and that’s where we have to be so methodical in our processing it. We do know that there has been some debris recovered from some of the rooftops nearby as well as some of the debris have been embedded in some of the buildings nearby. So that gives you just a kind of a scope of the power of the blast and you can see how it was so devastating.

Question:
Do the white smoke suggest gun powder…?

Unidentified ATF official:
We’re not prepared to really get that specific yet.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick:
I want to ask a favor on behalf of somebody I met this afternoon. Lieutenant Governor and I were over at the Tufts Medical Center and we visited a young woman – we visited a number of victims. But one young woman named Victoria, who is a Northeastern student who is in the hospital because of a serious shrapnel wound she had in her leg around the site of the first blast. She was scared. She was carried, I think, by a firefighter. We think by a firefighter to the medical tent. And really, she described as hysterical. There was a person who helped calm her down, who she said was a – who described himself as an Army Sergeant, an Afghanistan vet. I don’t know whether he was assigned to the medical tent or like so many other people there and elsewhere in the Commonwealth just jumped in to help. But his name is Tyler. That’s all we know – Tyler. And one of the things he said to her to calm her down was to show her his own shrapnel wound or scars from his own shrapnel wound from when he was in Afghanistan. Victoria very very much wants to thank Tyler personally. So if Tyler is out there and listening or reading your reports, we would love to hear from Tyler so that we can connect him to Victoria. And Tyler can get in touch with us by dialing 617-725-4000. If you’d just get that word out there, I’d appreciate the favor and more to the point Victoria would.

Thank you all for coming.

###

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