Fact Check: Boston Marathon Bombings

The Saudi national has not been charged, and the JFK Library and Museum fire seems to have been unrelated.

After yesterday’s double bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street—now officially called an act of terrorism—rumors emerged that ran rampant on social media. And while, unfortunately, the number of deaths and injuries reported have been confirmed (3 dead and 176 injured, with 17 in critical condition, as of 11:30 a.m. Tuesday morning), other tales are thus far unconfirmed and likely to be false.

The following are some of the stories that have been confirmed or refuted:

1. A Saudi Arabian Man Was Taken into Custody

CBS senior correspondent John Miller (and former assistant director of the FBI) reported that the 20-year-old Saudi national started running after the explosions, including that “in context, a lot of people began to run.” Miller explained:

A civilian who thought that this individual was acting suspiciously chased him down and tackled him and then turned him over to Boston police saying, ‘I saw this guy hanging around over there acting suspiciously and then he ran.’ That may mean a lot; it may mean nothing at all, but authorities that I’ve spoken to, sources who are being briefed on this say he’s being fully cooperative, he’s denying any involvement in this act. [CBS]

Monday night, officials investigated the man’s apartment in Revere on Ocean Avenue.

The man’s roommate, who was at the apartment, told the Globe, “I don’t think he could do that,” and shared more information about the man, including that he was a devout Muslim (and of course “Muslim” was trending nationally on Twitter for quite a while yesterday afternoon). The roommate also shared the man was a soccer fan, was in Boston attending an English language school, and that he last saw him on Sunday.

The man was last being treated for injuries at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He was neither arrested nor charged with any crime. No one is currently in custody for yesterday’s attacks.

2. No Additional Unexploded Bombs Were Found

Shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing on Boylston Street, rumors and reports of multiple unexploded bombs throughout the downtown Boston area were circulated on social media. However, today Governor Deval Patrick said there were no unexploded bombs found:

Two and only two explosive devices were found yesterday. Other parcels, all other parcels in the area of the blast have been examined but there are no unexploded bombs, there were no unexploded devices found.

Below is the statement from Patrick, joined by Mayor Menino and Special Agent in Charge Richard Deslauriers.

3. The JFK Library Fire

Around the same time as the two explosions at the marathon on Boylston Street, a third fire and possible explosion took place at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester. It was suggested at the time that this was also a bombing. However, library officials told the Globe that it appeared to have been a mechanical fire in an HVAC system, unrelated to the events at the marathon. The building was evacuated and no one was harmed.

A bomb squad was brought in as a precaution, but later in the day, police Commissioner Edward Davis confirmed that the fire did not appear to be related to the marathon explosions.

4. The 8-Year-Old Boy

Monday night, @LifeAsBros posted a photo on Twitter of a little girl with the message: “R.I.P. to the little 8 year old girl who died in the explosions today. This kind of stuff just makes me sick…”

And while there is nothing wrong with being angry after tragedy (thus far it’s been retweeted nearly 10,000 times), the death of any 8-year-old girl is thus far unconfirmed.

As many on Twitter pointed out immediately, it was an 8-year-old boy that authorities said had been killed among three confirmed fatalities.

Today, the identity of the boy was revealed as Martin Richard of Dorchester, who was at the finish line of the marathon waiting for his dad Bill. According to the Globe, Martin’s mother and sister were with him at the time and were seriously injured by the blasts.

martin richard

Photo via Lucia Brawley/Facebook

5. The Man on the Roof

After the explosions at the Boston Marathon, Dan Lampariello (@Boston_to_a_T) posted this message and photo on Twitter:

Not long afterward, @Fraank_Oceaan, a Frank Ocean parody account, reposted a cropped version of the photo, questioning the presence of a shadowy figure on the roof of a nearby building, asking “Who’s that guy on the roof??”

The observation launched speculation and suspicion on Twitter, with comments on the posture of the blur (why isn’t he running from the blast?) and others betting “that’s the guy!” No ID has been made on the individual, nor has he been named a suspect.