As a ranking member of the House intelligence committee, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger says he was briefed every three hours on the manhunt for the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.
“Right after the bombs went off, we started getting information,” the Baltimore County Democrat said. He praised the FBI’s efforts, saying agents have done an “outstanding job in this investigation.”
Inside a week, two Chechen suspects were identified and tracked down. Nineteen-year old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev is on the run, while his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a gunfight with authorities early Friday morning.
Early on, Ruppersberger said, investigators sorted through a deluge of images of the bombing scene from surveillance cameras and bystanders, who used their cell phones to record the day’s events. The Tsarnaevs, seen walking together in various videos and wearing backpacks, were soon identified as suspects.
Once those images were released to the public, it “changed the scenario,” Ruppersberger said. The brothers decided to “go out fighting” and made a public appearance at a 7-11 convenience store. “You know that they wanted to be identified,” he said.
Soon, they were accused of killing an M.I.T. police officer, highjacking a car and engaging in a violent gunfight with law enforcement that left the eldest brother dead and sent the other into hiding after he escaped.
As of Friday evening, the investigation remained focused on finding the missing brother. The next phase, Ruppersberger said, will be to determine whether they were working with anyone else.
“Was there a third party involved? Was there a terrorist group involved?” Ruppersberger said.”We’re … trying to find any indication that connected [them] to a third party or conspiracy.”
That phase of the investigation will be extensive, the congressman said, requiring international cooperation.
“There’s a long way to go. There’s a lot of work to do,” he said.