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Boston Marathon: suspect arraigned in Boston bomb hoax (+video)

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(Read caption) The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.
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[Updated 4:30 p.m. ET] Kevin Edson of Boston, the man accused of a bomb hoax in Boston’s Copley Square, faced several charges in Boston Municipal Court Wednesday. 

He has been sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for psychiatric evaluation, is being held on $100,000 bail, and is due back in court May 7.

The bomb hoax Tuesday played on Bostonians' already-frayed nerves, as the city marked the one-year anniversary of the April 15 attacks on the Boston Marathon.

Moreover, the 2013 attacks occurred on the same section of Boylston Street and involved two homemade pressure cooker bombs concealed in backpacks. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured during those explosions.

On Tuesday, a police officer encountered a man walking down the middle of Boylston Street with a backpack, barefoot and shrouded in a black veil in pouring rain, according to Boston Police Department spokeswoman Rachael McGuire.

When questioned about the contents of the backpack, the suspect informed the officer that it held a rice cooker before dropping the bag on the ground, Ms. McGuire said.

The police evacuated the area and issued a stay-in-place order for area residents and businesses. Meanwhile, a bomb squad detonated the backpack, which did not contain explosives, as well as an additional bag that had been found at the scene. The second backpack is believed to have been left by a member of the media covering the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and is not considered to have been part of the hoax.

Just hours before Edson’s behavior sparked concerns, high-profile officials including Vice President Joe Biden attended a somber memorial service and flag raising at the finish line.

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Mr. Edson has been charged with threatening battery, possession of a hoax explosive device, threats to commit a crime, disturbing the peace, disturbing a public assembly, and disorderly conduct.

In a statement Wednesday, his family said, "Our family is so sorry and emotionally overwhelmed by the events at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday. To have this happen on the one-year anniversary of such a horrific crime is unfathomable."

Edson's mother, Joie Edson, said that her son has battled bipolar disorder for many years and that his mental state had recently deteriorated.

News of the incident traveled rapidly throughout the city, as authorities shut down several area subway stations for several hours while assessing the situation. With little official information, many residents turned to Twitter for updates of the situation.

The BPD assured residents in a public safety alert via Twitter that the “the unattended bags at the Finish Line have been disrupted for precautionary reasons.”

Social media played a key role in the wake of the 2013 bombings. Immediately after the explosions, runners, spectators, and victims were able to connect with loved ones via Twitter and Facebook. Social networking sites also served as an incubator for rumors, including false accusations.

Several days later, when the bombing suspects led police on a high-speed chase to nearby Watertown that resulted in a firefight and a stay-in-place order for millions of residents, people again took to Twitter for updates about what was happening.

During the lockdown, police criticized Twitter users for broadcasting information heard over the police scanner that could theoretically compromise law enforcement’s management of the situation.

On Tuesday night, the Boston Police Department implored the news media, via Twitter, to refrain from prematurely releasing any raw footage of the incident.

“For officer safety – media outlets are discouraged from showing any live video of backpacks found near Finish Line,” read a tweet from the BPD Twitter account.

 Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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