The second full day of the investigation into the attack that killed three people and injured at least 176 brought jitters, rumors and at least the hope that investigators had made important progress, though Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D) said that while the probe is “making some progress . . . it’s going to be slow, it’s going to be methodical.”
Boston’s federal courthouse, where hundreds had gathered in response to false reports of an arrest, was briefly evacuated because of a bomb threat. Officials also evacuated a Boston hospital, Brigham and Women’s, and Oklahoma City’s City Hall because of suspicious vehicles outside. No explosives were found in those cases.
In Boston, many of the injured were released from hospitals. At Brigham and Women’s, which initially treated 35 people, only 11 were still hospitalized Wednesday evening, four of them in critical condition.
And Boston University released the name of a previously unidentified woman who was killed in the blast. Lu Lingzi, a graduate student in math and statistics at the university and a Chinese national, was watching the race with friends when the bombs blew up.
The White House announced that President Obama will be joined by his wife, Michelle, at an interfaith memorial ceremony in Boston on Thursday. “The way that the people of Boston and the city of Boston responded reminds us — and reminds the world — of just who we are as a people,” spokesman Jay Carney said.
Wednesday’s whirlpool of reports demonstrated the extraordinary promise and power that new technologies bring to criminal investigations, but also the risk and unreasonable expectations that now permeate such probes. When federal authorities asked the public for help Monday, they received thousands of video clips and still images of the bomb site.
Some people, empowered by smartphones and ever more sophisticated technology, didn’t leave the detective work to the professionals. They joined forces on sites such as Reddit.com to examine crowd pictures, searching for — and then virally distributing — image of backpacks that resembled the shredded bag in photos the FBI released Tuesday.
Black backpacks turn out to be ubiquitous, and when five of them were found in a single photo of the crowd on Boylston Street, the search quickly drew criticism from readers worried that innocent people could be harmed by being identified as suspicious. Others questioned whether black backpacks were even the most important lead, recalling the search for white box trucks that steered investigators astray in the D.C. sniper case a decade ago.