The feelings of what had happened at the Boston Marathon on Monday had not yet begun to sink in before the full force of the investigation visited Revere Monday night and into Tuesday morning.
Around 8 p.m. on Monday night, a full cadre of federal investigators descended upon 364 Ocean Ave. to pursue a piece of the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing.
Apparently, a young Saudi Arabian man who was at the bomb scene had been tackled by a witness to the bombing. That witness turned the man – a Saudi national about 22-years-old – over to Boston Police and indicated the man had been acting suspiciously before the bomb went off. There was no definite proof the man had any connection to the bombing, though.
Later, it was reported nationally that the same Saudi national was being questioned and was a ‘person of interest.’ Several sources were strongly indicating on Tuesday the Saudi man tackled at the bomb scene was the same Saudi man who lived at 364 Ocean Ave.
That is apparently what led investigators to the apartment – though the Saudi man was said to have been cleared by authorities late on Tuesday.
Getting cleared by the feds didn’t come, though, until after an extensive investigation at the Revere Beach high-rise.
During the raid, scores of police vehicles from the feds to the State Police to the Boston Police and to Revere Police and Revere Fire clogged the circular driveway for several hours as the work in the building unfolded, which included the use of all sorts of technical equipment – including X-ray machines – alongside bomb-sniffing dogs.
Revere Police Lt. Amy O’Hara confirmed on Tuesday that they were on standby and assisted several federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in looking into a part of the ongoing Marathon investigation.
Fire Chief Gene Doherty said they were called to the scene around 8:54 p.m. by the State Police Bomb Unit for an operational standby. He said that is a procedure used when the Bomb Unit is checking out a package or something similar and wants the Fire Department to be on scene in case something goes wrong.
The investigation centered on the fifth floor of the building at 364 Ocean Ave.
Reports indicated that those on the scene were State Police, FBI, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents, Boston Police, bomb technicians, and State Police detectives.
Agencies employed an x-ray machine to scan for any suspicious materials in one particular apartment on the fifth floor. Apparently, there was something that caught their eye, and the entire 4th, 5th and 6th floors of the building were evacuated.
Doherty said they were told to station firefighters on the fifth floor near the fire standpipe system and with fire extinguishers. Paramedics were also told to be there as well.
After some time, nothing had happened and the tense situation seemed to slow down a bit. Doherty said it didn’t appear that they had found any major breaks in the case.
Doherty said the State Police released Revere Fire shortly afterward.
However, there were no explanations or debriefings for local first responders.
“Everything was very tight-lipped,” said Doherty. “Even the State Police were out of the loop. It was pretty intense.”
Investigators, however, continued to search the apartment and left with three bags full of unidentified items.
Investigators cleared the scene around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.
There were no discussions about the raid on the Beach by FBI officials.
The only allusion they would make to the early morning actions were that they were pursuing leads that would take them to a variety of places around the region.
All day Tuesday, it wasn’t clear if the Saudi man from Ocean Avenue was a suspect or whether he was just an innocent bystander who mistakenly had gotten caught up in the flurry of activity.
All signs late on Tuesday seemed to point to the fact that the Saudi man was simply watching the race, and happened to be the first possible lead that investigators tracked down.
The man had apparently come to the United States to study English – that according to a Boston Herald interview on Tuesday with the man’s roommate.
The two men lived with a third roommate, who is out of the state right now.
The building at 364 Ocean Ave. has had its share of problems over the last few years, mostly due to the fact that there is a high-turnover rate for residents. That’s because many of the units are apparently sublet to International students who are studying at universities in Boston and Cambridge.
In October 2011, Revere Police arrested a North Korean man who got drunk and couldn’t speak English – in the process breaking into the 10th floor apartment of men who were sleeping and punching them in the face. The man was a student at a local college and had come to a party in the building, but after smoking a cigarette outside, was too drunk to remember how to get back to the right apartment.
In May 2012, police arrested a Moroccan man living in the building for alleged sexual assaults that took place in and around the building. When police responded to arrest the man, he retreated into his apartment and tried to set the building on fire.
Elderly residents of the building – who have lived there for many years – have phoned the Journal repeatedly over the last two years to say they are fearful and scared of the people who now live there.