QUANTICO, VA (CBS) – Just minutes after the two bombs exploded at the Marathon Finish Line, as people rushed to help those hurt on Boylston Street, the FBI launched its search for answers 475 miles away. The location: the FBI Lab in Quantico, Virginia.
Supervisory Special Agent Mark Whitworth, the Chief of the FBI Lab’s Explosive Unit, deployed teams to the scene, and began round the clock operations at the Lab. “You have people who died as a result of the attack. We went into 24-7 operations,” he explains.
In a case like this, Whitworth knows every second counts. “Anything that we can find, if we can develop a latent fingerprint, if we can identify that bomber, than the quicker we can get them off the street, and protect lives.”
All of the evidence from both the bomb site and the other crime scenes were brought to the FBI Lab. It’s all being analyzed in secure rooms, with a sign that says “Boston Marathon Bombing.”
Whitworth gave us a tour of the lab to demonstrate some of the science and technology the FBI uses in bombing cases.
Highly skilled workers carefully collect tiny pieces of the explosives. Extractions from the evidence are brought to another room, and in a matter of hours, instruments can determine exactly what was in the explosive. Every fragment is analyzed and documented, and in the final stage, examiners work to determine exactly how it functioned.
For Mark Whitworth, it’s clear this work more than just about the pieces. “It’s a service to the American people,” he says pausing to reflect on his work. He has been to several bomb sites, and has seen the devastation and destruction firsthand. That’s why it is so personal. “Where you make a difference is you feel like you are doing the right things to help the people who are alive, those who lost loved ones find some closure. That’s the important thing.”
For now, the work continues at the lab. Every piece, every connection is crucial as the case heads to trial.
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