Published in The Daily Free Press April 16 print edition
By: Mina Corpuz and Stephanie Pagones
The Boston Police Department is investigating two unattended backpacks at the Boston Marathon finish line Tuesday night, on the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings.
BPD took a male suspect into custody and asked questions in relation to the suspicious packages. The bomb squad was on the scene with police to investigate the objects, and the area, which included Boylston Street, was evacuated and closed at approximately 7:30 p.m. All residents were asked to avoid the area, said a BPD spokesperson.
BPD Superintendent Randall Halstead said in a Tuesday press conference that a police officer first noted suspicious behavior when he saw a man walking barefoot down Boylston Street in the rain.
“My officer observed this action, and based on the action observed, did what he did,” he said. “I have the utmost praise for my officers.”
Halstead said he could only offer basic facts at the press conference because the incident is still under investigation.
The Boston Fire Department was also at the scene “on stand-by” for the police, said Steve MacDonald, spokesman for BFD.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced that the Copley T station was closed at the street level and all trains were passing through without stopping. Later, a tweet from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority official Twitter account at about10:25 p.m. stated that service was suspended from Haymarket to Kenmore to avoid the area.
The bomb squad employed a bomb-detecting robot prior to detonating both suspicious objects, a spokesperson from BPD said.
The area was eventually cleared, with the closed streets being re-opened and the MBTA resuming service, according to an MBTA tweet at about 11:30 p.m.
Because this incident occurred on the anniversary of the Marathon bombings, several news crews were in the area to report on tribute events held near the finish line throughout the week. BPD prohibited live video reporting and required news reporters to move a safe distance from the finish line, a BPD tweet confirmed.
“BPD confirming that the unattended bags at the Finish Line have been disrupted for precautionary reasons,” BPD tweeted at about 9:52 p.m.
Several residents said the incident was unsettling, but not surprising on the anniversary of a tragic event.
Katie Olds, 23, of Allston, said people love to instill fear in others, especially due to the significance of the day.
“It’s really scary because of what happened [last year],” she said. “It’s an open invitation to cause fear. I wonder why people would want to do this, especially because today is the one-year anniversary.”
Samarth Virk, 21, a Boston University School of Management junior, said he is more cautious and suspicious about events in the city following the Boston Marathon bombings.
“I understand what an issue this is today and leading up to the marathon event,” he said. “My friends and I were at the marathon last year. I understand why people would be extra cautious and suspicious about today.”
Carla MacLean, 28, of Brighton, said she expected an incident like this to happen on the day of the marathon.
“In a way, I thought there would be a lot more security today and leading up to the marathon,” she said. “There are very evil people out there and someone must have kept track of the [anniversary] date. It’s sad that anyone would want to copy what happened. I hope there will be enough security to prevent anything from happening.”