Early on Wendesday afternoon, reports began emerging through several media outlets that investigators had identified a possible suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, based on surveillance footage captured by the Lord & Taylor department store across the street from the second bomb.
From there, it all went weird with multiple conflicting reports coming from both different news agencies and from within the same news network. Depending on what article you were reading, whose Twitter feed you were following or what network you were watching, a suspect might have been arrested, identified, not indentified, on the way to a court house, or in hiding.
CNN reporters Fran Townsend (through federal sources) and John King (through local sources) were the first to report that an arrest had been made. FOX News and the Associated Press confirmed this report, but ABC, CBS and NBC maintained that no arrest had been made at all, and investigators were still identifying a suspect. At the same time, the Boston Globe independently reported that a suspect was being taken to U.S. District Court in South Boston.
BREAKING: Law enforcement official: Boston Marathon bomb suspect in custody, expected in federal court. -BW
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 17, 2013
— TODAY(@todayshow) April 17, 2013
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes later told CNN that according to several of his sources, no arrest had been made. Later, Townsend came back to reverse what she had previous said on air, saying that there was no arrest after hearing from additional sources who told her that authorities didn’t even have a name of the suspect.
King partially refuted this, suggesting that the sources he had spoken with confirmed that a suspect had been identified. This prompted an unintentionally hilarious debate on what “identified” actually meant between the talking heads on the network.
At the same time, the Boston Police Department tweeted out that an arrest has yet to be made.
Despite reports to the contrary there has not been an arrest in the Marathon attack.
— Boston Police Dept. (@Boston_Police) April 17, 2013
The FBI also issued a statement confirming the police’s tweet.
Meanwhile, the source with whom the Associated Press spoke, maintained that despite the contradictory reports, a suspect was in custody, reminding us it’s entirely possible that law enforcement authorities would be selective with the information they share with the media dependent on how it may or may not help their investigation.
A separate bit of contradictory reports also emerged on the color of the suspect’s skin, with CNN reporting it to be dark, and CBS reporting it to be white.
What can be agreed upon is that a lot of progress was made yesterday evening in understanding how the bombs were made and detonated. Presumably, this helped investigators refine their search through the videos and photographs of the explosions and their aftermath, as well as the call logs of cellular phone towers. Going through the video available with the use of enhancement technology allowed investiagators to find a male suspect who placed a black bag at the scene, and then fled.
Hopefully, we’ll get a better idea of what’s happening from a joint press conference scheduled for 5:00 PM ET. Or, maybe not.
Officials cancel promised 5 p.m. briefing on the Boston Marathon citing ‘today’s events at Moakley Courthouse’ where bomb scare led to evac.
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) April 17, 2013