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Whirlwind day in Boston bombing case ends, search for mystery man begins

Numerous media reports suggest that law enforcement has identified a potential suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing case in a surveillance video. But other news reports Wednesday turned out to be false.

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A man in a hazmat suit uses a device on Boylston Street Wednesday near the site of the Boston Marathon bombings. The area has been cordoned off since the explosions so the FBI and local law enforcement can collect evidence.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor

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Investigators in the Boston Marathon bombing case were reported Wednesday to have located key video images of a still-unidentified male depositing a bag on the ground near the site of the second of two explosions at the race, according to several news outlets.

Those findings remained at the end of a blustery media day gusting with other reports that turned out to be false, including the claim that a suspect had been arrested. But federal and Boston-area law enforcement sources, speaking only on condition of anonymity, continued to maintain that “significant progress” had been made toward identifying a suspect in Monday’s twin bombings, according to various sources that included CNN and The Boston Globe.

The FBI’s afternoon briefing in Boston was pushed back from its original 5 p.m. start time – and later cancelled – after a day in which leaks from unnamed law enforcement sources to a few media outlets led to confusion about progress in the bombing investigation.

One federal law enforcement source in Washington, who is unauthorized to comment on the bombing probe, described it as “the leakiest investigation” he had witnessed. Another law enforcement source said the delay in the afternoon press briefing reflected, in part, an effort “to get all the different [law enforcement] agencies on the same page.”

Other speculation on why the briefing was delayed and finally cancelled included the possibility that pictures of a suspect or suspects would be issued, prompting careful evaluation of where that step might lead. Or perhaps officials felt they were on the verge of further progress in the search for the responsible parties, and the FBI wanted to be sure that would not be jeopardized by publicly divulging information.

Earlier Wednesday, some media reported that a suspect in the bombings had been arrested, in one case based on a claim from an unnamed Boston law enforcement official that “we got him.”            

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