The Federal Bureau of Investigation harshly refuted reports that a suspect in Monday's Boston Marathon bombings was arrested Wednesday. Several media outlets, including The Associated Press, CNN and Fox News reported an arrest was made Wednesday afternoon, citing law enforcement sources.
"Contrary to widespread reporting, no arrest has been made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack," the FBI said in a released statement. "Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate. Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting."
CBS and NBC were among the first outlets to dispute reports of an arrest.
"JUST IN: @CBSNews has learned that NO ARREST has been made in Boston Marathon bombing case," said a tweet from the national network after the initial reports. "Law enforcement officials are trying to identify one person, but no arrest has been made," said another.
"All we can say for certain, is that all of our sources say no arrest," NBC News reporter Pete Williams said in a tweet circulated by his network. A subsequent tweet said, "Multiple sources confirm to NBC News: 'No Arrest'."
"News of the arrest was first reported by CNN," the TV station proudly said on its website. CNN walked back its report throughout the afternoon, with on-air reporters saying that law enforcement sources said no arrest was made.
News of the purported arrest came shortly after reports that a photograph of the suspect was captured by a surveillance camera at a Lord & Taylor department store located between the two bomb locations. A second image of the suspect was captured by a TV station, according to multiple news reports. The images have not been released to the public.
"Investigators have arrested a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, a federal source confirmed to FoxNews.com," that media outlet reported. According to Fox News, the store surveillance footage shows "a young man carrying – and perhaps dropping – a black bag at the second bombing scene at Monday's Boston Marathon."
The initial Associated Press report said:
A suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was taken into custody Wednesday in a breakthrough that came less than 48 hours after the deadly attack, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said Wednesday.
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, the official said.
A news briefing was scheduled later Wednesday.
The AP did not immediately correct or withdraw its report. The massive journalism outlet is widely considered one of the most credible news sources. In a subsequent article the AP reported:
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 on Wednesday 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.
Earlier on Wednesday, investigators were tight-lipped about developments in the case and did not identify any suspects.
Initial press reports after the Monday afternoon explosions focused on an injured 20-year-old Saudi man. He was cleared by investigators, who searched his apartment Monday night.
CBS News reported Wednesday afternoon on Twitter, "JUST IN: Man sought as possible suspect is WHITE MALE, wearing white baseball cap on backwards, gray hoodie and black jacket."
Three people died in the bomb blasts and more than 170 were wounded.