The Boston bombings of 2013 that took place during the Boston City Marathon on Patriot’s Day in the year 2013 is hard to forget. A beautiful spring day that was marred by chaos, death, and fear. A tragic incident which is hard to look past. The bombings had led to three casualties and more than a hundred injuries. How did the investigation team find the bombers, and how much time did it take for them to draw conclusions about them? “American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing” Episode 1 begins with narrators coming forward describing the significance of the Boston Marathon, the oldest and the most well-known run that takes place every year. Something the people of Boston and people from around America look forward to. Billy Evans, a Boston PD supervisor, and Kevin McWatters are the marathon regulars.
For the first time in the history of the marathon there is a huge coverage of it on social media, thanks to smartphones, pictures are being posted by everybody. A few hours into the marathon, the first bomb explodes near the finishing line, and the second goes off within minutes not very far from the finishing line either. Chaos, noise, and commotion, ensues. People are injured, establishments around the track are in smithereens, and there are shards of shrapnel everywhere on the scene of the crime. Kevin gets delayed reaching the finish line because of the cramps he experiences. The investigation team at the scene of the crime are trying to get all the angles including the possibility of it being a terrorist attack.
With the FBI arriving at the scene of the crime, the possibility of the incident being branded as a terrorist attack is high. There is a sense of urgency amongst the investigative team, and all they want to do is find out who the culprit is as soon as possible. Till now, they have found no shred of evidence that would help them find the suspect or the culprit. Kevin Swindon, FBI cyber division chief, gathers as much information as possible about the number of photos that were uploaded on social media, and the emails that were sent from across the city, which would point them to the bomber. The police and the FBI gather all the evidence at the Falcon Terminal. Both teams are working day and night to find out who could have possibly bombed this place the way they did, and there is genuine stress to crack the case. With two bombs that went off, the police expected a third bomb as well because usually there is always a third bomb.
As the investigation into who the suspect is begins, the first suspect happens to be a Saudi national who tried to smash his phone on his way to the hospital to be treated for bomb-related injuries. But through investigation, nothing concrete was found on him or against him. The police were quick to believe that it was a Muslim who had done the crime. A result of the Islamophobia that has been festering and emerging in America since 9/11. One of the narrators, the imam of a mosque in Boston, and an acquaintance of the suspected bomber, come forward and talk about how they were repeatedly targeted for being Muslims, even though they have lived in America for years and have become part of the culture here. But with no lead in hand after letting go of the Saudi national, what would the police and FBI do differently?
Do Police And The FBI Reveal The Face Of The Possible Bombers?
With no tangible evidence against the suspect and no suspect in hand, because there were hundreds of people at the marathon, it’s possible anyone could be a target. It would take plenty of manpower for them to figure out who can be pinpointed to be called a suspect. The police and the FBI have hours of CCTV footage and photographs from around the place of the bombing, and for them to gather and form a line of suspects would take hours. That’s the reason they requested the citizens submit photographs that would help them locate the bomber amidst the crowd and the chaos.
One of the photographs sent by a citizen shows a black bag on the spot of the explosion. The authorities scrutinized the long CCTV footage, and finally found out who left the black bag on the site. One of the suspects is wearing a black hat, while the other is trying to hide his face with a white hat. However, even with such crucial information in hand, law enforcement was in two minds about whether to release the photographs of the suspects or not. One faction believes releasing the pictures will help them locate the bombers; meanwhile, the other faction does not want a frenzy to follow the release of the photos. The police are also cautious about what would happen once the photos are out. There are bound to be tons of phone calls for them, and they will have to prepare for such a major operation if they want to go ahead with publishing the photos.
The police get a piece of information about the photos being leaked from the media side, so before that could happen, the police and the FBI decide to release the photos to the media by letting them know these are suspects they are looking for and people are well within their rights to notify law enforcement if they see these people around them. Though the other half of the investigation team carried out this act reluctantly, they can only hope this move would help them get one step closer to closing the case. Even with the photos out there for people to view, it was platforms like social media and forums like Reddit that became spots where maximum misinformation was being spread. The police had to find a way to curb it and not let it derail the investigative process. With social media gaining momentum, this was bound to happen, and law enforcement does not have a strong cyber team to be able to curb the influx of fake leads and stories that would slow down their process of catching the suspects. Even with the photos out for the people, the facial recognition system only works if the images are crystal clear.
Though there is surely a consensus on the fact that the photos of the two men that have been released make them seem as if they are two college-going young men wearing normal clothes and blending in with the crowd to make themselves seem normal, the bomb made by the suspects turns out to be a pressure cooker bomb, which means the attack was done to deliberately harm and kill people. Their MO worked because Kevin and Karen’s friend Krystal had died because of the blast. And more reports of casualties were just coming out one by one; the police were worried that the photos of the suspects would create a frenzy, not just among the people but also among the suspects themselves. Will they try to run away or kill themselves so that they are not caught? These are the questions that would be answered as the investigation goes on to understand who are persons wearing, the white hat and the black hat, and what their aim was behind carrying out a ghastly act of terrorism. As the police have come this close to recognizing the terrorists, it would be difficult for them to arrest and prosecute them for the same. The police are hoping the situation won’t blow up.