By MICHELE McPHEE Mar 10, 2014, 2:28 PM
FRAMINGHAM -- The Boston FBI said that there has been “no specific threat” made against this year’s Boston Marathon, but they’re taking few chances as public safety officials announced that there will be an extraordinary police presence along the 26.2-mile route.
“We are taking every precaution necessary if a threat should pop up,” Boston field office Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kiernan Ramsey said. But so far, the FBI has “no specific intelligence that there is a threat to the Boston Marathon.”
But both Ramsey and Massachusetts State Police Colonel Tim Alben acknowledged there hadn’t been a specific threat or intelligence that warned them of the tragedy of last year’s event, when three people were killed and more than 260 were injured in a dual bombing near the finish line.
“There was no chatter last year, and we are all very aware what happened then," Alben told ABC News.
The remarks came the same day as a press conference held inside the Massachusetts Emergency Management bunker to reiterate the new rules for the 118th annual race. Some 36,000 runners have qualified for the race, officials said.
Backpacks are prohibited through the eight cities and towns that participate in the marathon and police are urging spectators along the route to carry belongings in clear plastic bags. No one will be allowed to carry coolers or any containers of liquid more than one liter, said Kurt Schwartz, Massachusetts Undersecretary of Homeland Security. In last year’s bombing, two brothers allegedly used two pressure cookers to house their explosives, brought to the race in dark bags.
“No one is building walls between spectators and runners,” Schwartz said, calling the security “reasonable.”
That security will also include State Police helicopters overhead, bomb sniffing dogs, uniformed National Guard soldiers who are trained and certified as military police officers, and hundreds of uniformed police officers who will be alongside an untold number of plainclothes law enforcement officials, Schwartz said.
“We are all mindful of what happened a year ago," Schwartz said.
Scores of people are running in honor of the victims – Martin Richard, 8, Boston University student Lingzi Lu, and restaurant manager Krystal Campbell – who died at the scene and others who were maimed for life.
“We never forget the tragedy and suffering that occurred last year," Boston Athletic Association Director Thomas Grilk said.
Officials insist that the character of the 118-year event will be preserved if runners and Patriots Day revelers cooperate by not bringing bags and bottles to the event, helping authorities “strike the right balance,” for the race.
"It will be a fun, festive, family focused day," Schwartz insisted.
Michele McPhee is a freelance reporter and frequent ABC News contributor based in Boston.
Where is Heda Umarov, who, sources say, was one of the people to start the "Free Jahar" campaign to support her friend accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?
Boston Marathon Bombings Investigation
Breaking news by Michele McPhee for ABC News
At His First Court Appearance Accused Marathon Bomber Smiles, Blow A Kiss, As the Victims of the Blast Look On
The left side of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's face is still swollen from the bullets that hit him; his left hand swaddled in a bandage. He was brought into court where he said in a Russian accent "Not guilty" a total of seven times to charges of murder and terrorism in connection with twin explosions he and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev are accused of detonating with cell phones near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
On the left side of the court where 30 family members and victims of the carnage that exploded along the final stretch of the 26-mile route. On the right were Tsarnaev supporters, including a girl wearing a T-shirt that read: "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is innocent," under an image of the 19-year-old.
The suspect's sisters were also in the court, using their headscarfs to wipe at tears. They wept openly after Dzhokhar turned around and smiled at them. He continued to turn and look at his sisters until his lawyer, Miriam Conrad, quietly urged him to stop. The smiles and the tears did little to assuage the anger of the assembled law enforcement officials in the courtroom. Among the uniformed cops was Watertown Sgt. Thomas Pugliese, who was trying to wrestle Tamerlan Tsarnaev into handcuffs when Dzhokhar drove "straight at them" trying to escape. Tamerlan died of gunshot wounds and the impact of the accident.
Outside a self-described member of Anonymous wore the mask that has become a symbol of the anarchist group and insisted that Tsarnaev was innocent. Another woman held a sign that read "Free Jahar."
When the 7-minute hearing was over, he blew a kiss to his sisters, one of whom was cradling an infant.
MIT Police officers lined up outside the courthouse to honor slain police officer Sean Collier, who prosecutors said was killed in cold blood by the Tsarnaev brothers.
Liz Norden, whose sons Paul and JP each lost a leg in the bombing, was in court to see "the face of evil."
As she left court yesterday, Norden was visibly shaken at seeing Dzhohkar Tsarnaev's smile at his sisters and said she was upset by the sisters' audible crying. "They should come to my house and see real suffering,''
The Mother of Two Brothers Who Each Lost A Leg When Twin Bombs Were Detonated, Investigators Say, by Terrorist, Will Confront the "Face of Evil" when the Surviving Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is Brought To Court For the First Time Since the Finish Line Blasts.
Prosecutors say that three Watertown Police Officers were trying to handcuff accused terrorist Tamerlan Tsarnaev when his younger brother Dzhokhar "drove straight at them" in a stolen car fleeing from a firefight with police. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was mortally wounded by the vehicle, according to court documents.
Also revealed in the new indictment was a timeline of terror along the last stretch of the 26-mile Boston Marathon route and details about how the pressure-cooker bombs - laden with BBs and nails - were detonated using dump phones purchased by Jahar Tsarni, the younger brother's alias.
Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be in federal court next week. But law enforcement is not taking any chances that Tsarnaev's boasts of a plan to attack the celebration could come to fruition. Extraordinary security at the Hatch Shell.
Police have "mounting evidence" that both Tsarnaev brothers are linked to an unsolved triple murder.
"We are looking at a possible connection with the suspect in the marathon atrocity and this active and open homicide in Waltham,'' Stephanie Guyotte, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex County District Attorney, confirmed to ABC News.
Now law enforcement officials tell ABC News that some crime scene forensic evidence provided a match to the two Tsarnaev brothers.
Original report by Michele McPhee for Boston ABC Affiliate WCVB-TV.
More Articles by Michele
Investigators want to know what drew the accused bombers to the cluster of side streets in the blue-collar suburb, far from any major thoroughfare, especially if the brothers were on the run after their images had been shown on television by the FBI and after they had allegedly murdered MIT Police Officer Sean Collier.
Robel Phillipos, a 19-year-old American friend of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was arrested last week for allegedly lying to investigators in the days after the bombing. Phillipos declined to answer questions when he left the courthouse in a black baseball cap and white button-down shirt. He was released on $100,000 bail and will be put under "strict house arrest," the court said.
The former Chechen rebel who said his home was searched by the FBI in connection to the Boston Marathon bombing investigation said in a letter today he has "nothing to do with the terrible act in Boston."
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curatone said he will propose a home rule petition to recognize Collier's sacrifice as one made for the people of the close-knit, blue-collar city just outside of Boston. That petition is expected to be passed by the Somerville City Council, and will then go to the State House as legislation to be signed by Gov. Deval Patrick.
Officers said they also discovered the phrase "Praise Allah" on the boat's side panels and several anti-American screeds, including references to Iraq, Afghanistan and "the infidels."
The brothers Tsarnaev had plans to drive to New York in their carjacked Mercedes and explode their remaining bombs last Thursday, but their plans went off track when the owner of the car they stole made an escape, the New York City mayor said Thursday.
When they were hit by the second of two bombs, the Norden brothers were among five friends in their group badly wounded. Paul’s girlfriend Jackie Webb had a piece of the bomber’s backpack removed from the shrapnel embedded in her leg and handed over to FBI evidence technicians, law enforcement sources told ABC News.
The brothers were spectators near the finish line waiting to cheer on their friend, Somerville firefighter Mike Jefferson. After the first bomb went off the brothers shielded the firefighter's mother, daughter and aunt and took the brunt of the explosion.
We were positioned outside the firehouse watching the runners. It was a nice day. There were a lot of runners because it was the four-hour mark, peak finish line time.
Then we heard this boom. It sounded like one of the muskets they fire at the Patriots game after a touchdown. We thought for a second it was part of someone’s celebration. But then we all looked toward the sound and saw the smoke.