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UPDATE: Officials have potential suspect in bombing, but not in custody

  • Investigators comb through Boylston Street just beyond the finish line of the Boston Marathon, two days after two bombs exploded, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston.  Authorities investigating the deadly bombings have recovered a piece of circuit board that they believe was part of one of the explosive devices, and also found the lid of a pressure cooker that apparently was catapulted onto the roof of a nearby building, an official said Wednesday.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    Investigators comb through Boylston Street just beyond the finish line of the Boston Marathon, two days after two bombs exploded, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. Authorities investigating the deadly bombings have recovered a piece of circuit board that they believe was part of one of the explosive devices, and also found the lid of a pressure cooker that apparently was catapulted onto the roof of a nearby building, an official said Wednesday.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Lizzie Lee, 56, of Lynwood, Wash., who was participating in her first Boston Marathon, holds a candle and a flower at Boston Commons during a vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions, Tuesday April 16, 2013, one day after bombs exploded at the finish line of the marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    Lizzie Lee, 56, of Lynwood, Wash., who was participating in her first Boston Marathon, holds a candle and a flower at Boston Commons during a vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions, Tuesday April 16, 2013, one day after bombs exploded at the finish line of the marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Officials suit up in tactical gear at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, one day after bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The twin explosions near the marathon’s finish line killed three people, wounded more than 170 and reawakened fears of terrorism. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    Officials suit up in tactical gear at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, one day after bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The twin explosions near the marathon’s finish line killed three people, wounded more than 170 and reawakened fears of terrorism. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Jillian Blenis, 30, of Boston, reacts while stopping at a makeshift memorial, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    Jillian Blenis, 30, of Boston, reacts while stopping at a makeshift memorial, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Emma MacDonald, 21, left, is comforted by Rachael Semplice, 22, center, as Juliana Hudson, 23, looks during a vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Twin explosions near the marathon’s finish line Monday killed three people, wounded more than 170 and reawakened fears of terrorism. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    Emma MacDonald, 21, left, is comforted by Rachael Semplice, 22, center, as Juliana Hudson, 23, looks during a vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Twin explosions near the marathon’s finish line Monday killed three people, wounded more than 170 and reawakened fears of terrorism. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Cailly Carroll reads signs posted on a barricade, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    Cailly Carroll reads signs posted on a barricade, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • This image from a Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security joint bulletin issued to law enforcement and obtained by The Associated Press, shows the remains of a pressure cooker that the FBI says was part of one of the bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon. The FBI says it has evidence that indicates one of the bombs was contained in a pressure cooker with nails and ball bearings, and it was hidden in a backpack. (AP Photo/FBI)

    This image from a Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security joint bulletin issued to law enforcement and obtained by The Associated Press, shows the remains of a pressure cooker that the FBI says was part of one of the bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon. The FBI says it has evidence that indicates one of the bombs was contained in a pressure cooker with nails and ball bearings, and it was hidden in a backpack. (AP Photo/FBI)

  • A woman wearing a Boston Marathon jacket, center, attends a vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, one day after bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    A woman wearing a Boston Marathon jacket, center, attends a vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, one day after bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Robert Bakoian, 38, of Boston, reflects near a makeshift memorial on Boylston Street, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    Robert Bakoian, 38, of Boston, reflects near a makeshift memorial on Boylston Street, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • This image from a Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security joint bulletin issued to law enforcement and obtained by The Associated Press, shows the remains of a black backpack that the FBI says contained one of the bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon. The FBI says it has evidence that indicates one of the bombs that exploded in the Boston Marathon was contained in a pressure cooker with nails and ball bearings, and it was hidden in a backpack. (AP Photo/FBI)

    This image from a Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security joint bulletin issued to law enforcement and obtained by The Associated Press, shows the remains of a black backpack that the FBI says contained one of the bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon. The FBI says it has evidence that indicates one of the bombs that exploded in the Boston Marathon was contained in a pressure cooker with nails and ball bearings, and it was hidden in a backpack. (AP Photo/FBI)

  • A woman jogs near a statue of George Washington at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, one day after bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. A vigil is expected at Boston Common later in the day to honor the victims of the two bombs that blew up within about 10 seconds and about 100 yards apart Monday near the finish line of the race. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    A woman jogs near a statue of George Washington at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, one day after bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. A vigil is expected at Boston Common later in the day to honor the victims of the two bombs that blew up within about 10 seconds and about 100 yards apart Monday near the finish line of the race. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • A jogger trots near the corner of Berkeley Street and Boylston Street not far from the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    A jogger trots near the corner of Berkeley Street and Boylston Street not far from the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • A sign hangs from a barricade on Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    A sign hangs from a barricade on Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Emma MacDonald, 21, center, cries during a vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Twin explosions near the marathon’s finish line Monday killed three people, wounded more than 170 and reawakened fears of terrorism. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    Emma MacDonald, 21, center, cries during a vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Twin explosions near the marathon’s finish line Monday killed three people, wounded more than 170 and reawakened fears of terrorism. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Jillian Blenis, 30, center, of Boston, reacts while stopping at a makeshift memorial, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    Jillian Blenis, 30, center, of Boston, reacts while stopping at a makeshift memorial, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Mourners attend candlelight vigil for Martin Richard at Garvey Park, near Richard's home in the Dorchester section of Boston, on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Martin is the 8-year-old boy killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. (AP Photo/The New York Times, Josh Haner)  MANDATORY CREDIT;  NYC OUT;  MAGS OUT; NO SALES; TV OUT,  NO ARCHIVE

    Mourners attend candlelight vigil for Martin Richard at Garvey Park, near Richard's home in the Dorchester section of Boston, on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Martin is the 8-year-old boy killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. (AP Photo/The New York Times, Josh Haner) MANDATORY CREDIT; NYC OUT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES; TV OUT, NO ARCHIVE

  • Ethel Rose Paris holds up some religious items she brought to leave at the house of Martin Richard beyond a police cordon in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Wednesday, April 17, 2013.   Richard, 8,  was killed in Monday's bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

    Ethel Rose Paris holds up some religious items she brought to leave at the house of Martin Richard beyond a police cordon in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. Richard, 8, was killed in Monday's bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

  • An investigator combs through trash pulled from a vin just beyond the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street, two days after two bombs exploded just before the finish line, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston.  Authorities investigating the deadly bombings have recovered a piece of circuit board that they believe was part of one of the explosive devices, and also found the lid of a pressure cooker that apparently was catapulted onto the roof of a nearby building, an official said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    An investigator combs through trash pulled from a vin just beyond the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street, two days after two bombs exploded just before the finish line, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. Authorities investigating the deadly bombings have recovered a piece of circuit board that they believe was part of one of the explosive devices, and also found the lid of a pressure cooker that apparently was catapulted onto the roof of a nearby building, an official said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Investigators comb through Boylston Street just beyond the finish line of the Boston Marathon, two days after two bombs exploded, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston.  Authorities investigating the deadly bombings have recovered a piece of circuit board that they believe was part of one of the explosive devices, and also found the lid of a pressure cooker that apparently was catapulted onto the roof of a nearby building, an official said Wednesday.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Lizzie Lee, 56, of Lynwood, Wash., who was participating in her first Boston Marathon, holds a candle and a flower at Boston Commons during a vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions, Tuesday April 16, 2013, one day after bombs exploded at the finish line of the marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Officials suit up in tactical gear at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, one day after bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The twin explosions near the marathon’s finish line killed three people, wounded more than 170 and reawakened fears of terrorism. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Jillian Blenis, 30, of Boston, reacts while stopping at a makeshift memorial, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Emma MacDonald, 21, left, is comforted by Rachael Semplice, 22, center, as Juliana Hudson, 23, looks during a vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Twin explosions near the marathon’s finish line Monday killed three people, wounded more than 170 and reawakened fears of terrorism. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Cailly Carroll reads signs posted on a barricade, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • This image from a Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security joint bulletin issued to law enforcement and obtained by The Associated Press, shows the remains of a pressure cooker that the FBI says was part of one of the bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon. The FBI says it has evidence that indicates one of the bombs was contained in a pressure cooker with nails and ball bearings, and it was hidden in a backpack. (AP Photo/FBI)
  • A woman wearing a Boston Marathon jacket, center, attends a vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, one day after bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Robert Bakoian, 38, of Boston, reflects near a makeshift memorial on Boylston Street, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • This image from a Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security joint bulletin issued to law enforcement and obtained by The Associated Press, shows the remains of a black backpack that the FBI says contained one of the bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon. The FBI says it has evidence that indicates one of the bombs that exploded in the Boston Marathon was contained in a pressure cooker with nails and ball bearings, and it was hidden in a backpack. (AP Photo/FBI)
  • A woman jogs near a statue of George Washington at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, one day after bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. A vigil is expected at Boston Common later in the day to honor the victims of the two bombs that blew up within about 10 seconds and about 100 yards apart Monday near the finish line of the race. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • A jogger trots near the corner of Berkeley Street and Boylston Street not far from the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • A sign hangs from a barricade on Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Emma MacDonald, 21, center, cries during a vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions at Boston Common, Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Twin explosions near the marathon’s finish line Monday killed three people, wounded more than 170 and reawakened fears of terrorism. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Jillian Blenis, 30, center, of Boston, reacts while stopping at a makeshift memorial, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Mourners attend candlelight vigil for Martin Richard at Garvey Park, near Richard's home in the Dorchester section of Boston, on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Martin is the 8-year-old boy killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. (AP Photo/The New York Times, Josh Haner)  MANDATORY CREDIT;  NYC OUT;  MAGS OUT; NO SALES; TV OUT,  NO ARCHIVE
  • Ethel Rose Paris holds up some religious items she brought to leave at the house of Martin Richard beyond a police cordon in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Wednesday, April 17, 2013.   Richard, 8,  was killed in Monday's bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
  • An investigator combs through trash pulled from a vin just beyond the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street, two days after two bombs exploded just before the finish line, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston.  Authorities investigating the deadly bombings have recovered a piece of circuit board that they believe was part of one of the explosive devices, and also found the lid of a pressure cooker that apparently was catapulted onto the roof of a nearby building, an official said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

5:08 p.m.: Investigators poring over photos and video from the Boston Marathon have an image of a potential suspect in the deadly bombing but do not know his name and have not questioned him, a law enforcement official said today.

The news came with Boston in a state of high excitement over a possible breakthrough in the case and conflicting information over whether a suspect was in custody. The police and reporters converged on the federal courthouse in the afternoon.

Several news organizations reported earlier in the day that a suspect had been identified from surveillance video taken at a department store midway between the sites of Monday’s two bomb blasts, which killed three people and wounded more than 170.

A law enforcement official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity and was not authorized to discuss the case publicly confirmed only that investigators had an image of a potential suspect and had not established his identity.

A bomb threat forced the evacuation of the courthouse in midafternoon, the U.S. Marshals Service said, and security officials were sweeping the area. Workers were allowed back into the courthouse a short time later.

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4:11 p.m.: A federal courthouse in Boston has been evacuated amid conflicting reports that a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing is in custody.

The U.S. Marshals Service in Washington says the courthouse was evacuated due to a bomb threat. Spokeswoman Nikki Credic-Barrett says authorities are conducting a security sweep.

Attorney Francis DiMento says he was in a hearing when someone came over the loudspeaker and told everyone to get out in a hurry.

Crowds of reporters are gathered outside. The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston say no arrests have been made in the marathon bombing.

The courthouse has a day care attached and at least one crib was wheeled out.

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2:51 p.m.: Federal officials are denying that a suspect is in custody in the Boston Marathon bombings.

A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told the Associated Press today a suspect was in custody.

But the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston dispute that.

The official who spoke to the Associated Press did so on condition of anonymity and stood by the information even after it was disputed.

The official was not authorized to divulge details of the investigation. The official had said the suspect was expected in federal court in Boston.

Reporters and the police have converged at the courthouse.

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2:25 p.m.: A suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was taken into custody today in a breakthrough that came less than 48 hours after the deadly attack, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said today.

The official spoke shortly after several media outlets reported that a suspect had been identified from surveillance video taken at a Lord & Taylor store between the sites of the two bomb blasts, which killed three people and wounded more than 170.

The official was not authorized to divulge details of the investigation and spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The suspect was expected at a Boston courthouse under heavy security, the official said.

A news briefing was scheduled for later today.

Law enforcement agencies had earlier pleaded for the public to come forward with photos, videos or any information that might help them solve the twin bombings. The police also gathered surveillance video from businesses around the finish line.

The bombs were made from ordinary kitchen pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails and ball bearings to inflict maximum carnage, investigators and others close to the case said. But the FBI said nobody had claimed responsibility.

Investigators in white jumpsuits had fanned out across the streets, rooftops and awnings around the blast site in search of clues earlier today. They combed through debris amid the toppled orange sports drink dispensers, trash cans and sleeves of plastic cups strewn across the street at the marathon’s finish line.

President Obama branded the attack an act of terrorism. Obama plans to attend an interfaith service tomorrow in the victims’ honor in Boston.

Scores of victims of the Boston bombing remained in hospitals, many with grievous injuries. Doctors who treated the wounded corroborated reports that the bombs were packed with shrapnel intended to cause mayhem. In addition to the 5-year-old child, a 9-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy were among 17 victims listed in critical condition.

The trauma surgery chief at Boston Medical Center says most of the injuries his hospital treated after the marathon bombings were to the legs.

“We have a lot of lower extremity injuries, so I think the damage was low to the ground and wasn’t up,” Dr. Peter Burke said. “The patients who do have head injuries were blown into things or were hit by fragments that went up.”

Dozens of patients have been released from hospitals around the Boston area.

At Massachusetts General Hospital, all four amputations performed there were above the knee, with no hope of saving more of the legs, said Dr. George Velmahos, chief of trauma surgery.

“It wasn’t a hard decision to make,” he said yesterday. “We just completed the ugly job that the bomb did.”

The bombs exploded 10 or more seconds apart, tearing off victims’ limbs and spattering streets with blood. The blasts near the finish line instantly turned the festive race into a hellish scene of confusion, horror and heroics.

The blasts killed 8-year-old Martin Richard, of Boston, and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, of Medford. The Shenyang Evening News, a state-run Chinese newspaper, identified the third victim as Lu Lingzi. She was a graduate student at Boston University.

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1:50 p.m.: A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation says a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings is about to be arrested.

The official spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity today. The official was not authorized to divulge details of the investigation.

The officials says the suspect is to be taken into custody by federal marshals and taken to a courthouse.

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