Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Boston Bombing Investigation: Wednesday's Developments

A Massachusetts state trooper salutes Wednesday during the memorial service for Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) police officer Sean Collier on the school's campus in Cambridge, Mass.
Brian Snyder
Reuters /Landov
A Massachusetts state trooper salutes Wednesday during the memorial service for Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) police officer Sean Collier on the school's campus in Cambridge, Mass.

The latest developments in the investigation into the bombings at the Boston Marathon and related news include:

Update at 7:36 p.m. ET. Suspect Unarmed When Arrested:

When police cornered Dzhokhar Tsarnev in a boat in Watertown, they said they traded fire with the Boston bombing suspect.

Federal officials, however, are telling The Washington Post and the Associated Press that the suspect was unarmed at the time. The AP reports:

"The officials tell The Associated Press that no gun was found in the boat. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said earlier that shots were fired from inside the boat."

The Post reports the federal officials they spoke to declined to say what made officers open fire.

Update at 5:42 p.m. ET. Sales Of 'Sweet Caroline' Up:

Since the Boston bombings, sales of Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline have soared 597 percent.

The AP reports:

"Nielsen SoundScan said Wednesday the song sold 19,000 tracks this week. It sold 2,800 tracks the previous week and 1.75 million tracks to date.

"The crowd-pleasing song is a staple of Boston Red Sox games. It makes no specific mention of Boston or the Red Sox, but the team started playing it regularly at Fenway Park more than a decade ago and fans took to it."

Update at 5:29 p.m. ET. Bombing Suspect Was Placed On Watch List:

The Washington Post reports:

"The CIA asked the main U.S. counterterrorism agency to add the name of one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers to a watch list more than a year before the attack, according to U.S. officials."

NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in a firefight with police, was placed on the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) list, a very large list that's different from the Terrorist Watchlist or the No-Fly List, which are more significant.

"The fact that his name was on the TIDE list does not indicate anything more about Tamerlan's activities than has been reported already," Dina reports.

That is, as the Post reports, his name was added after Russian authorities warned the U.S. that Tsarnaev may have been radicalizing.

Update at 2:15 p.m. ET Bombs Used Remote-Controlled Triggers:

The Los Angeles Times, quoting a joint FBI-Department of Homeland Security bulletin sent to state and local law enforcement, reports that investigators believe the two homemade bombs used in the Boston Marathon blasts were triggered by remote controllers designed for toy cars.

"Based on preliminary analysis of recovered evidence, each device likely incorporated an electrical fusing system using components from remote control toy cars such as a transmitter and receiver pair operating at 2.4 GHz, an electronic speed control used as the switch mechanism and sub-C rechargeable battery packs at the power source," read the bulletin, according to an official.

Both pressure cooker bombs used a low explosive mixture that incorporated nitrate and perchlorate-based oxidizers, the bulletin said. Investigators don't know if the explosive was purchased that way or was mixed from different sources. The shrapnel included BBs and carpenter nails, the newspaper reported.

Update at 1:25 p.m. ET James Taylor's "Shower the People":

"Shower the people you love with love

"Show them the way that you feel"

James Taylor and a student group from MIT just honored slain officer Sean Collier with his song.

Update at 1:20 p.m. ET. For Slain Officer, An Irish Poet's Words:

At the memorial service for MIT officer Sean Collier, Vice President Biden quotes poet Seamus Heany's "The Cure at Troy" (a translation of "The Philoctetes" by Sophocles):

"History says, Don't hope on this side of the grave.

"But then, once in a lifetime the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme."

Update at 1:15 p.m. ET. Biden Says Terrorists "Will Not Write The History Of This Nation":

"I promise you," Vice President Biden said moments ago to the students at MIT, where campus officer Sean Collier is being remembered this hour, "these events since 9/11 will not write the history of this nation. They will be a mere chapter. ...

"We will not change and they [terrorists] will not marginalize us. They will eventually be marginalized," he added.

Update at 1:10 p.m. ET. Biden Is Struck By Slain Officer's Life; Condemns "Cowardly Knock-off Jihadis":

At the memorial service for MIT police officer Sean Collier, who was killed Thursday night, Vice President Biden just said he was particularly struck in recent days by something a student told the news media about the officer: "He loved us and we loved him."

"From what I've learned," Biden said, Collier lived a life devoted to helping others.

To the hundreds of police officers from around the nation who are at the service, Biden said "we all owe you so much more than just honoring you on days of grief." And to their families, he said he salutes them for standing by the officers.

Of the suspects in the bombings and Collier's death, Biden called them "two twisted, perverted, cowardly knock-off jihadis."

"It infuriates them that we refuse to bend," he said of terrorists.

Update at 12:30 p.m. ET. MIT Memorial Service:

Sean Collier, the MIT police officer who was shot and killed late Thursday — by the bombing suspects, authorities believe — is being remembered this hour at a service on the university's Cambridge campus. Vice President Biden is among those in attendance. WBUR and are among the news outlets streaming the service.

Update at 10:10 a.m. ET. Tamerlan Tsarnaev And Family Collected Welfare Benefits Until Late 2012:

The older of the two suspects in the bombings "received welfare benefits from the state up until last year, when he became ineligible based on family income," The Associated Press reports. The wire service says "a spokesman for the state Office of Health and Human Services on Wednesday confirmed a Boston Herald report that 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his wife and their toddler daughter had received benefits."

The Herald wrote earlier Wednesday that "Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism." And it added that " both of Tsarnaev's parents received benefits, and accused brother bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan were recipients through their parents when they were younger, according to the state."

Neither the Herald nor the AP have turned up specifics about the exact type or amount of the benefits.

Update at 9:55 a.m. ET. Tsarnaev Remains In Fair Condition:

"According to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in fair condition," the FBI's press office says.

Update at 9:15 a.m. ET. Suspect To Be Moved?

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect, may be moved from Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to another hospital because some of the victims of the bombing, and presumably their families, are also being treated at Beth Israel Deaconess and are upset that he's there, CNN reports.

Headlines from earlier Wednesday:

-- "Brothers Suspected In Marathon Bombing May Have Planned To Go To NYC Next." The Boston Globe, following up on earlier reporting from The New York Times, writes Wednesday that Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the brothers who authorities say were behind the bombings, the killing of an MIT security officer and attacks on other police, "may have planned to escape to New York last week with a car full of bombs."

The Globe reports that a senior law enforcement official says the brothers allegedly told the driver of an SUV they commandeered late Thursday that, "We just killed a cop. We blew up the marathon. And now we're going to New York. Don't [expletive] with us."

-- Plot May Have Been Hastily Put Together. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has told investigators that he and his older brother planned the Boston Marathon bombings only a week or so before the race, that they were operating alone, and that they received no training or support from outside terrorist groups, officials said Tuesday."

The Times' story echoes some of what NPR's Tom Gjelten reported Tuesday: "Clues Suggest Boston Suspects Took A Do-It-Yourself Approach."

-- "Bomb Suspect Influenced By Mysterious Radical." The Associated Press reports that "in the years before the Boston Marathon bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev fell under the influence of a new friend, a Muslim convert who steered the religiously apathetic young man toward a strict strain of Islam, family members said."

-- Boylston Street Reopens. "At about 3:35 a.m., a passing police truck gave the all-clear. Officers began carrying barricades and piling them on the sidewalk. And just like that, with little fanfare or ceremony, Boylston Street was back open for business," the Globe's Metro Desk blog says. "Nine days after tragedy struck the finish line of the Boston Marathon, pedestrian traffic began to trickle onto the once-busy commercial thoroughfare that had been blocked off by police as a crime scene."

Later Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden is expected to be among those in attendance at a memorial service for slain MIT officer Sean Collier, WBUR writes. The service will be at the university's Briggs Field. WBUR's coverage of the marathon bombings and their aftermath is collected here.

Our previous posts are here. They include this, from Tuesday:

Early Thinking: Boston Suspects Were Working On Their Own.

Note: As happens when stories such as this are developing, there will likely be reports that turn out to be mistaken. We will focus on news being reported by NPR, other news outlets with expertise, and statements from authorities who are in a position to know what's going on. And if some of that information turns out to be wrong, we'll update.

Take me back to the top of this post.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
Latest Stories