Boston police officers blew up two backpacks near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Tuesday night after a man showed up to in the area barefoot, yelling and holding a backpack that contained a rice cooker, according to police.
Authorities shut down Boylston Street and suspended some train service in the area:
#BPDPublicSafetyAlert: Boylston St has been closed & MBTA Green Line service temporarily suspended. Community members asked to avoid area.
— Boston Police Dept. (@bostonpolice) April 15, 2014
Police initially went to talk to the barefoot man (who was wearing a veil and hat) because he was loudly chanting “Boston strong.” Once they stopped and talked to him, they discovered that a rice cooker was in his backpack.
The area was evacuated and the bomb squad was called in for a controlled detonation of the backpack (which didn’t contain explosive materials, as it turned out). Another unattended backpack was found, blown up and later deemed not explosive. This one belonged to an unidentified local media outlet, police said.
On Wednesday morning, Boston police identified the man as Kevin Edson, 25, of Boston. He was arrested and charged with threatening battery, “possession of a hoax explosive device” and disturbing the peace, among other things. (He appears to be a performance artist. His mother told the Associated Press that he has mental health issues.)
The entire incident unfolded on the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, a day marked with tributes to the victims of that attack and its aftermath. This year’s marathon is set for Monday, with organizers preparing for a much larger crowd of spectators, an expanded field of runners and heightened security.