- More than 33 terabytes of digital information were collected, including photos and video from the public via a special digital tip line developed to support the investigation.
- Linguists spent more than 2,500 hours translating material to support the investigation and trial.
- FBI Boston’s Evidence Response Team (ERT), working with teams from the Boston Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), spent nine days processing 12 square blocks near the bomb scenes.
- About 176 FBI Laboratory and ERT personnel deployed to Boston to assist.
- Evidence technicians processed more than 3,500 pieces of evidence and shipped 2,749 items to the Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia for further analysis.
- The Victim Services Division deployed 10 victim specialists from around the country to support Boston’s specialists in providing support and resources to the victims and their families.
The program included a two-hour presentation by one of the case’s lead agents, Tim Brown, who delivered a gripping account of the investigation. He was followed by Dun Meng, a graduate student at the time, who recounted his kidnapping by the bombers and his daring escape that ultimately helped authorities track them down. He remembered the police officer who showed up to help him while he was hiding in a Cambridge gas station.
“That’s the first moment I feel like I’m safe,” Meng said. “That’s probably a moment I’ll never forget. I really appreciate the officers. They saved my life.”
Special Agent Brown said there are scores of unsung heroes who helped save lives and bring the case to fruition—to include members of the Boston Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police who were on the front lines of the manhunt alongside the FBI’s SWAT team and special agent bomb technicians.
Brown and Bonavolonta both spoke at length about the partnerships the FBI relies on both during critical incidents and its day-to-day investigations. The Boston Division alone covers four states and has five distinct Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) with representatives from 75 different agencies. They said those partnerships are key to investigations.
“I think that this brought us closer as a law enforcement community,” Bonavolonta said. “The partnerships now are probably as strong as they have ever been.”
Looking ahead, Bonavolonta said the bombing 10 years ago set in motion refinements in how the office prepares now for critical incidents, from pre-determining a staging area for evidence collection on the scale of 2013 to the precise roles every last field office employee will have in the event of an incident.
“We’ve evolved in the way that we respond to these incidents,” said Bonavolonta, speaking from his personal experience as a young agent in New York on 9/11.
As Brown closed his presentation, he said it was the victims that really propelled the case to its successful conclusion.
“The capture of the surviving terrorist provided some comfort to the community, but we knew that our work on this case had just started,” Brown said. “Over the next several years, it was the victim’s families and the hundreds of survivors who gave us motivation each day to keep pushing forward to get the job done.”