Skip to content

Boston Marathon finish line security visibility increased after backpack incident

Apr 16, 2014, 11:31 AM EDT

Boston Marathon AP

Security visibility will increase near the finish of the Boston Marathon after a man carrying a backpack with a rice cooker was arrested there Tuesday night.

“We are going to increase visibility over the next couple days because of that incident,” Boston police commissioner William Evans said Wednesday. “We’ll have bike patrols down there. Nobody should be afraid to come to Copley Square, and nobody should be afraid to run the 118th Boston Marathon.”

The race Monday was already scheduled to have more than double the security presence of last year, when two pressure cooker bombs in backpacks exploded near the finish line, killing three and injuring more than 260.

The man who walked barefoot down Boylston Street in pouring rain Tuesday night was stopped by an officer who saw him acting suspiciously and taken to a local hotel for questioning. He dropped the backpack on the street and told the officer it contained a rice cooker. A bomb squad blew up the backpack.

Evans said that incident was not a breach of security because Boylston Street was open, as it will remain all week. A second unattended backpack was found Tuesday, belonging to a media member.

“That [arrested] individual, like anyone, had the right to basically walk up the street,” Evans said. “He had a backpack, and within that minute, our officers were on him, and we had the backpack back down on the ground. Based on what he said and what was in the bag, that’s why we went to the precautions that we did. You can never be too safe nowadays.”

Officials expressed confidence in the “comprehensive” race security plan Wednesday.

“Unfortunately last night we had an incident that you can see what the anxiety level goes out when an unattended backpack is left on the street,” Evans said. “I think it really set the tone last night how important it is to ask you not to bring those type of items.”

Backpacks are not forbidden, but spectators — some one million expected — are asked not to bring them and to place items in clear plastic bags if they must.

Evans also said there will be a limit on crowds near the finish on Boylston Street on Monday and that they will be subject to possible searches getting into the area. Once security’s movement is impeded, they will ask people to move to another location.

“Don’t everyone flock to Boylston Street,” Evans said. “The less we have on Boylston Street, the better.”

Security statistics include over 3,000 uniformed police officers and National Guard soldiers deployed along the course, up to 500 plain clothes officers in the crowd and over 100 video cameras along the eight cities and towns that will all have emergency operation centers.

Officials re-emphasized their goal among those staggering statistics — to maintain the traditional character of the Patriots’ Day event, the world’s oldest annual marathon.

“We’re not going to scare people,” Evans said. “Runners should be very confident coming to this race that it’s going to be safe and secure. … I don’t want everybody’s anxiety to be put up. That’s what troubles me about what happened last night.”

Boston Marathon tribute, moment of silence held near finish line

Latest Posts
  1. Indian boxer refuses bronze medal at Asian Games

    Oct 1, 2014, 5:24 PM EDT

    Sarita Devi Getty Images

    Video of bizarre scene during medal ceremony.

  2. Oslo withdraws 2022 Olympic bid after ‘no’ vote

    Oct 1, 2014, 4:54 PM EDT

    Oslo 2022 Getty Images

    Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing are the two remaining finalists.

  3. Dennis Kimetto gets hero’s welcome in Kenya (photos)

    Oct 1, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    Dennis Kimetto Getty Images

    Marathon world record smasher reportedly already has 2015 plans.

  4. North Korea vs. South Korea in Asian Games men’s soccer final

    Oct 1, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    North Korea men's soccer Getty Images

    Game will be played in South Korea with more than a gold medal at stake.

  5. Kyla Ross suffered hip injury before World Championships

    Oct 1, 2014, 11:38 AM EDT

    Kyla Ross Getty Images

    Olympic team champion trained with her hip and thigh taped Wednesday.

  6. Lindsey Vonn’s return to snow ‘went well,’ U.S. coach says

    Oct 1, 2014, 11:17 AM EDT

    Lindsey Vonn Getty Images

    Vonn strapped on skis in Austria, preparing for her World Cup return later this fall.

  7. Justin Gatlin eyes more 200s after undefeated season

    Oct 1, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT

    Justin Gatlin Getty Images

    Sprinter discusses Usain Bolt, reflects on 2014 and looks ahead to 2015.

  8. Michael Phelps arrested on DUI charges

    Sep 30, 2014, 4:18 PM EDT

    Michael Phelps Getty Images

    The 22-time Olympic medalist was pulled over in Maryland overnight.

  9. U.S. women’s basketball team beats Angola by 75 points

    Sep 30, 2014, 4:07 PM EDT

    Tina Charles Getty Images

    U.S.’ previous biggest blowout was 70 points over Senegal.

  10. Lauryn Williams ‘playing with the idea’ of bobsled this season

    Sep 30, 2014, 1:25 PM EDT

    Lauryn Williams Getty Images

    Summer and Winter Olympian previously said she was all but retired.

  11. Lindsey Vonn set for first skiing in 10 months, named 2016 Youth Olympics ambassador

    Sep 30, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT

    Lindsey Vonn Getty Images

    Vancouver downhill champion expected to ski in Austria on Wednesday.

  12. Patrick Chan eyes return to competition in 2015-16

    Sep 30, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT

    Patrick Chan Getty Images

    Canadian joins long list of skaters sitting out this season.

  13. Katinka Hosszu wins record 10 golds in 2 days at FINA World Cup

    Sep 30, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT

    Katinka Hosszu Getty Images

    Hungarian matched her Monday output on Tuesday but lacked top competition.

  14. Mikaela Shiffrin gets her own street in Vail

    Sep 30, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT

    Mikaela Shiffrin

    Olympic slalom champion also gave an update on her 2014-15 plans.

  15. Talk of a sub-two-hour marathon

    Sep 29, 2014, 1:16 PM EDT

    Dennis Kimetto Getty Images

    Dennis Kimetto’s record-smashing win in Berlin brings the barrier into closer view.

  16. ISU wants synchronized figure skating in Winter Olympics

    Sep 29, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT

    Synchronized Skating Getty Images

    ISU asks for synchronized skating and a new speed skating event for 2018.

  17. Yevgeny Plushenko wants to prove he ‘is not a coward’

    Sep 29, 2014, 10:27 AM EDT

    Yevgeny Plushenko Getty Images

    Plushenko received criticism for withdrawing at Sochi Olympics.