Investigators hope release of images showing two possible suspects will help lead to their identities.
Federal investigators issued an urgent appeal Thursday for the public’s assistance in identifying two suspects in the Boston Marathon attacks Monday. The two were seen on local surveillance camera carrying backpacks near the sites just minutes before two bomb devices were detonated.
Boston FBI chief Richard DesLauriers said the young men — identified as “Suspect 1” and “Suspect 2” were the only people authorities were seeking in connection with the blasts, which left three dead and 176 others wounded near the finish line of Monday’s race.
Suspect 1 was wearing a black cap, khaki pants, sunglasses and slip-on dress shoes.
Suspect 2 was wearing a white cap backward, jeans and gray hoodie sweatshirt with a black jacket over it. He is also seen casually walking down a busy sidewalk with a pack that investigators believe was set down near the site of the second explosion.
Both suspects’ bags appear to be similar to the black nylon pack described earlier as possibly used to carry the explosive devices believed to have been assembled in common kitchen pressure cookers.
DesLauriers said the suspects’ photos were culled from streams of video and photographic evidence collected since Monday. Police first became suspicious of Suspect 2 because of his actions and proximity to the second bomb scene. Investigators later found images of Suspect 1, who appears to be traveling with the other person.
“We consider them to be armed and extremely dangerous,” DesLauriers said at a televised evening briefing. “No one should approach them. No one should attempt to apprehend them except law enforcement. Do not take any action on your own.”
In the unusually blunt appeal, DesLauriers asked the public to closely examine the photographs and report any information to its telephone tip line: 1-800-225-5324.
“No bit of information is too small for us to see,” he said.
Within minutes of the photos’ release, the FBI’s website was swamped, temporarily blocking access to the material.
“Identifying and locating those responsible is now our highest priority,” DesLauriers said.
The release of the images comes three days after the blasts killed 8-year-old Martin Richard of Dorchester, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell of Medford, and Lu Lingzi, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China.
More than 1,000 officers and agents studied 3,000 photographs and many terabytes of digital data to identify the suspects, FBI Special Agent Jason Pack said.
Investigators used several different photos over time to piece together the suspects’ paths and association, FBI Special Agent Dan Curtin said.
At a service for victims in Boston on Thursday morning, President Obama vowed the attackers would be caught and prosecuted. “Yes, we will find you — and, yes, you will face justice,” he said.
In Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that the “full resources” of the Justice Department were being deployed in the investigation and to guard against any future attacks.
FULL COVERAGE: Boston Marathon bombings
Holder, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, told a congressional committee Thursday that the “individual or group that carried out this heinous act” would be held accountable … “by any means available to us”
Holder’s comments came after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a House panel that the responsibility for the attack has yet to be linked to any individuals or international or domestic terrorist organizations.
“We don’t know,” Napolitano told a congressional panel, as investigators in Boston continue to pursue a number of promising leads.
More than 50 people remain hospitalized, with seven listed in critical condition, down from 14 Wednesday. They include a 10-year-old boy at Boston Children’s Hospital whose leg was amputated and a 9-year-old girl with a leg injury. Brigham and Women’s Hospital had four people in critical condition and Boston Medical Center had one. At Tufts Medical Center, five bombing victims remain under care, but none are listed as critical.
Meanwhile, families of a newlywed couple who both suffered a leg amputation below the knee are thanking supporters for an outpouring of donations.
The families of Patrick and Jessica Downes said Thursday that the generosity from friends and strangers has restored their faith in humanity. More than 4,400 people have donated more than $246,000 to the couple through GiveForward.com.
The families say they don’t want the couple to worry about paying for prosthetics and modifications to their home during the recovery process.
Thirty-year-old Patrick and 32-year-old Jessica are in stable condition and recovering from surgery. They were married in Boston in August. Jessica is a nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of several area hospitals treating bomb victims.