Media Melts Down Over Reports Of Boston Suspect

Reports of “arrest” backpedaled to “no one in custody” in less than an hour. Here’s a timeline of the conflicting and confusing reports.

1. First report - 1:42 p.m.: AP breaks the story that an arrest is imminent.

2. Update - 1:43 p.m.: Reuters reports that investigators do not have the name of a suspect, makes no mention of a suspect in custody.

3. Update - 1:46 p.m.: Citing the AP report and an independent source, CNN tells viewers that an arrest has been made.

4. CNN reports that video from a nearby Lord & Taylor department store was helpful in identifying a “dark skinned male” as a possible suspect.

Google Maps

5. Update - 1:51 p.m.: Reuters reports CNN’s story that a suspect is in custody.

6. Update - 1:51 p.m.: In a live special report, ABC News reports that an arrest “may be imminent.”

Live Special Report: Arrest in Boston bombings may be imminent:

— ABC (@ABC News)

7. Update - 1:55 p.m.: In a live special report, NBC’s Pete Williams says that no arrest has been made but individuals have been identified as persons of “great interest.”

NBC News / Via

8. Update - 1:59 p.m.: CBS News reports that law enforcement sources are “very encouraged” by latest developments.

UPDATE: @CBSNews' Bob Orr reports that law enforcement sources are very encouraged by latest developments

— CBSNews (@CBS News)

9. Update - 2:00 p.m.: FOX News reports that an arrest has been made.

FOX News / Via

10. Update - 2:02 p.m.: AP updates its story and reports that a suspect is in police custody.

BREAKING: Law enforcement official: Boston Marathon bomb suspect in custody, expected in federal court. -BW

— AP (@The Associated Press)

11. Update - 2:03 p.m.: CBS reports that no arrest has been made.

JUST IN: @CBSNews has learned that NO ARREST has been made in Boston Marathon bombing case

— CBSNews (@CBS News)

12. Update - 2:05 p.m.: FOX News confirms that an arrest has been made.

#BREAKING NEWS: confirms arrest made in deadly #Boston Marathon bombing

— FoxNews (@Fox News)

13. Update - 2:06 p.m.: Boston Police scanner says that the suspect is en route to the Federal Courthouse.

Boston Police Scanner: Suspect en route to Federal Courthouse. (@catesish)

— ellievhall (@Ellie Hall)

14. Update - 2:08 p.m.: ABC reports that authorities are “close to identifying a suspect.”

BREAKING: an official in Massachusetts tells ABC News authorities are close to identifying a suspect in the #BostonMarathon bombings.

— paulafaris (@Paula Faris)

15. Update - 2:09 p.m.: NBC News doubles down, says no arrest has been made.

"All we can say for certain, is that all of our sources say no arrest." -@PeteWilliamsNBC #bostonmarathon

— todayshow (@TODAY)

16. Update - 2:13 p.m.: CNN tweets that a suspect has been arrested.

Authorities have arrested a suspect in Boston - news briefing expected at 5 p.m. ET: Details on @CNN TV now.

— CNN (@CNN)

17. Update - 2:18 p.m.: CBS reports that no arrest has been made, but a suspect was identified through cell phone tower logs.

CORRECTED. Source tells @CBSNews suspect identified in Boston bombings through cell phone tower call logs. NO arrest yet.

— CharlieKayeCBS (@Charlie Kaye)

18. Update - 2:24 p.m.: Reuters stands by its earlier statement that no arrests have been made.

No arrests made yet in Boston bomb investigation - government, law enforcement sources

— Reuters (@Reuters Top News)

19. Update - 2:25 p.m.: Boston Globe reports that the suspect is being taken to the US District Court in South Boston.

Boston Globe source reports suspect being taken to US District Court in South Boston.

— BostonGlobe (@The Boston Globe)

20. Update - 2:26 p.m.: Media descends on the Federal Courthouse in Boston.

[PHOTO] Outside Federal Court in Boston:

— CNBCnow (@CNBC Newsroom)

21. Update - 2:32 p.m.: Citing multiple sources, NBC reports that no arrest has been made.

Multiple sources confirm to NBC News: "No Arrest"

— NBCNews (@NBC News)

22. Update - 2:33 p.m.: Boston Police Department says there has not been an arrest.

Despite reports to the contrary there has not been an arrest in the Marathon attack.

— Boston_Police (@Boston Police Dept.)

23. Update - 2:36 p.m.: Boston Globe reports that there is NO suspect in custody and NO ONE is under arrest.

US Attorney's office: There is no marathon bombing suspect in custody and no arrest

— BostonGlobe (@The Boston Globe)

24. Boston Globe reports that this is a “dramatic change in status” of the investigation.

Dramatic change in status of Boston Marathon bombing invstigation: Authorities are now saying:"No arrest and no one in custody.''

— BostonGlobe (@The Boston Globe)

25. Update - 2:38 p.m.: CNN backtracks, says that no arrest has been made.

CNN's @JoeJohnsCNN reports no arrest has been made - details on our live blog and on @CNN TV:

— CNN (@CNN)

26. Update - 2:37 p.m.: BuzzFeed’s Jessica Testa reports that Homeland Security officers are outside the federal courthouse.

Police here aren't BPD. They're Homeland Security.

— jtes (@jessica testa)

27. Update - 2:42 p.m.: CBS reports that the suspect is a white male, describes clothing.

JUST IN: Man sought as possible suspect is WHITE MALE, wearing white baseball cap on backwards, gray hoodie and black jacket.

— CBSNews (@CBS News)

28. Update - 2:43 p.m.: FBI spokesperson tells Bloomberg News that no arrest has been made.

No arrests made in Boston Marathon bombing case: FBI spokesperson |

— BloombergNews (@Bloomberg News)

29. Update - 2:47 p.m.: AP walks it back, reports that there’s no suspect in custody.

BREAKING: Federal officials deny that Boston Marathon bombing suspect is in custody.

— AP (@The Associated Press)

30. Update - 2:49 p.m.: FOX News backpedals, cites “conflicting reports.”

#BREAKING: Conflicting reports over report of possible suspect in #Boston Marathon bombing

— FoxNews (@Fox News)

31. Update - 2:52.: BuzzFeed’s Jessica Testa reports on media chaos at the Boston federal courthouse.

1,000 reporters, no official reason we should be here.

— jtes (@jessica testa)

32. Update - 2:53 p.m.: Conflicting reports appear on CNN’s homepage.

CNN home page screengrab say it all - worthy of Newseum display: #boston

— dbrauer (@David Brauer)

33. Update - 2:58 p.m.: The FBI releases a statement confirming that no arrest has been made.

34. Update - 3:00 p.m.: CNN posts a correction on its Facebook page.

Note: BuzzFeed posted this image at 3:34 p.m. and placed it in its proper spot in the timeline.

35. Update - 3:05 p.m.: AP says its law enforcement source stood by the information despite conflicting reports.

AP say its law enforcement source "stood by the information even after it was disputed"

— mlcalderone (@Michael Calderone)

36. Update - 3:06 p.m.: Boston Globe says that the federal courthouse and a hospital where marathon victims have been treated are being evacuated.

BREAKING NEWS: Federal court is being evacuated and a witness says Brigham and Women's Hospital is also being evacuated.

— BostonGlobe (@The Boston Globe)

37. Update - 3:07 p.m.: Reuters reports that the courthouse has been evacuated.

Security officials clear Boston courthouse -- order court staff, attorneys, media to leave -- Reuters witness #breaking

— ReutersUS (@Reuters US News)

38. Update - 3:12 p.m.: Boston Globe confirms reports of the evacuation.

Federal courthouse evacuated; hundreds outside. People are being pushed back from building. Coast Guard and police boats in water.

— BostonGlobe (@The Boston Globe)

39. Update - 3:13 p.m.: Journalist posts panorama view of the media presence outside the federal courthouse.

3:13pm panorama, we are being asked to move back 'for our safety'

— joespurr (@Joe Spurr)

40. Update - 3:17 p.m.: WCVB-TV Boston reports that the evacuation has been labeled a “Code Red.”

Veteran prosecutor tells @wcvbkelleyt this is the first "Code Red" in his memory. #BREAKING

— WCVB (@WCVB-TV Boston)

41. Update - 3:18 p.m.: BuzzFeed’s Jessica Testa reports that a K-9 unit has entered the courthouse.

K-9 unit just walked into courthouse.

— jtes (@jessica testa)

42. Update - 3:28 p.m.: ABC News says courthouse was evacuated due to a bomb threat. No device was found.

U.S. Marshals: Bomb threat made against the federal courthouse in Boston. At this time, no device found .

— ABC (@ABC News)

43. Update - 3:29 p.m.: BuzzFeed’s Jessica Testa reports that reporters outside the Boston federal courthouse have been forced to move across the street.

And yet we're being pushed back even further. My view of the court house now:

— jtes (@jessica testa)

44. Update - 3:36 p.m.: BuzzFeed’s Ryan Broderick reports that 4chan is claiming to have called in the courthouse bomb threat.

4chan claims they called in the Boston Bomb Threat

— ryanpbroderick (@Ryan Broderick)

45. Update - 3:38 p.m.: Boston Globe reporter says courthouse evacuation caused by media presence.

Source telling me that Fed Courthouse evacuated b/c of my brethren in the media. We apparently created a false alarm.

— GlobeMCramer (@Maria Cramer)

46. Update - 4:19 p.m.: Boston Federal Courthouse gives all clear signal.

Courthouse was declared open by a man coming outside and waving a large green flag. (Seriously).

— AdamGabbatt (@Adam Gabbatt)

47. Update - 4:24 p.m.: Boston Globe reports that 5 p.m. FBI briefing has been cancelled.

Officials cancel promised 5 p.m. briefing on the Boston Marathon citing 'today's events at Moakley Courthouse' where bomb scare led to evac.

— BostonGlobe (@The Boston Globe)

48. Update - 4:36 p.m.: Reuters reports that the FBI has postponed the 5 p.m. press briefing.

FBI postpones planned 5:00PM ET news briefing on Boston Marathon investigation, new time unclear: FBI spokeswoman #developing

— ReutersUS (@Reuters US News)

49. Update - Boston Globe pretty much sums it up.

Public confusion engulfed the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing this afternoon

— BostonGlobe (@The Boston Globe)

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Ellie Hall is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C.
Contact Ellie Hall at
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