Color of Alleged Boston Bomber’s Rucksack Contradicted?

The second official suspect in the Boston Bombings case was captured yesterday evening after hiding in a boat, in the backyard of a local Boston resident. Despite the cheers and jubilation from onlookers, this case is far from being over. Careful analysis of the available evidence and statements made by authorities & the media, are starting to show possible contradictions in the alleged evidence against the young man, specifically in regard to the color of his rucksack.

Suspect Apprehended

According to the press conference following his capture, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, the younger of the two suspects, had wandered wounded in to the yard of a Franklin Street, Watertown, home and was discovered hiding in a boat after the resident noticed blood nearby. It is not clear why Dzhokhar did not try and escape, as he remained in the boat until authorities arrived and surrounded the area, but he may have been too injured to run off.

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told reporters that the suspect was not communicative, but police say gunfire was exchanged before they managed to move in and apprehend him. No officers were harmed during the incident.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is believed to have been taken to a Massachusetts hospital, suffering from gunshot wounds to the neck and leg. It’s not immediately clear the full extent of his injuries or when and were they occurred, but authorities also claim he was also involved in a chase and firefight with police the previous night, in which his elder brother (also a suspect) was shot and later died from his injuries.

Color of the Rucksacks and where were they found?

Following Dzhokhar’s capture Boston Police Department issued a celebratory Tweet: “CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.”

However the many facets of this case are far from being closed, and at this stage Dzhokhar is only a suspect with guilt yet to be proven in a court of law.

As we noted yesterday there is a possibility that the authorities had some level of prior intelligence that prompted them to perform a “drill” the morning of the marathon, with bomb sniffer dogs and roof spotters near the start line. They also deployed several National Guard units, including the Weapons of Mass Destruction Civilian Support Team in the immediate vicinity of where the first explosion went off, near the finish line.

Authorities claim that this first explosion was carried out by deceased “suspect 1” Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who wore a black/dark gray rucksack that day judging from the various photos and footage in the public domain. So far there has been no mention of direct evidence showing him place the bag, in terms of photos or video, although survivor Jeff Bauman, the man widely photographed with the missing legs is said to have positively identified him there. His brother is quoted in The Telegraph saying “He woke up under so much drugs, asked for a paper and pen and wrote, ‘bag, saw the guy, looked right at me’.”

Although various outlets have insinuated that Bauman said he saw Tamerlan literally sit the rucksack at his feet, there are currently no direct quotes of this at this stage and no actual description of the bag or its color.

If Bauman did see Tamerlan and it was noteworthy enough to be recalled, it would be of use to know whether the two CST types who were in the immediate vicinity at some point before the explosion also saw something similar. They luckily managed to avoid the blast and reach the road to call for backup.

The second explosion that occurred further down the street near the Forum Restaurant, is said to have been carried out by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who was apprehended yesterday evening. Photos and video of the day show him to be wearing a predominately light colored bag.

Investigators announced when they revealed images of the suspects that they have evidence of Dzhokhar placing a rucksack at the scene, however this has not been released to the public, and is likely being held off for the trial.

This is where there appears to be a significant contradiction that rests on the release of this video.

Original media reports of CCTV showing a man placing a bag at the scene of explosion 2 describe it as black, but Dzhokhar, accused of the attack, was carrying a predominantly light colored bag.

Boston Globe was first with this story on April 17:

An official briefed on the Boston Marathon terror bombing investigation said today that authorities have an image of a suspect carrying, and perhaps dropping, a black bag at the second bombing scene on Boylston Street, outside of the Forum restaurant.

Newsday followed with:

The video of the man who may have planted the explosives — two pressure cookers packed with nails, ball bearings and scrap metal — was shot by a camera mounted on the outside of the Lord & Taylor department store on Boylston Street.

The following day The Guardian had much the same story, citing the Mayor:

Thomas Menino, the mayor of Boston, said that a significant lead had been provided by video footage recorded by a department store security camera. The footage was reported to show a possible suspect dropping a black bag at the location of the second bomb shortly before the blast.

Using Google Maps Street View we can confirm that the Lord & Taylor store is across the street from the second explosion at the Forum Restaurant. So if Lord & Taylor are the source of the “video evidence” it almost certainly refers to the evidence authorities claim to have of Dzhokhar carrying out explosion 2.

Of course prior to news of this “video evidence” the FBI had already circulated images of a shredded black rucksack, so it’s entirely possible that various news outlets simply assumed if video shows a bag being dropped, it must be black. In these reports it was never mentioned where the shredded bag was discovered, but can we use photo evidence to confirm this ourselves?

This is the image of the bag. Note the color of the road and the white line it’s placed near. The bag is about the same width as the line.

If we go to photos of the first blast site, can we see any white lines nearby?

The immediate crime scene is on the left, the only white lines are several feet away in the middle of the road. These are standard white lines that if you stood on, your feet would overlap on both sides. These are therefore not the lines the black bag has been photoed against. It’s also unlikely they would have carried it all the way to the road to photograph anyway.

Lets go to the site of the second explosion. Are there any rucksack sized white lines at this crime scene?

Although we cannot be 100% certain, it would seem the black shredded rucksack was discovered at the second blast site as the media have reported and photographed beside the thick white lines in front of the sidewalk.

This should all become clear as more evidence filters out, but at this stage it would appear contradictory to suggest the shredded black rucksack reportedly found at the second blast site was Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s, and therefore it is paramount that authorities release the alleged “video evidence” of him dropping the bag to confirm the color. If it is black, where did he switch his bag? If it’s not black where is the FBI image of the black bag from?

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