Moscow Terror Attack: the Investigation Begins

By: From examiner.com
By: From examiner.com

MOSCOW -- Two suicide bombers killed at least 37 people on two packed Moscow Metro trains in the morning rush hour on Monday. Two female terrorists from Russia's troubled North Caucasus may have been responsible for Monday morning's blasts, the head of the country's Federal Security Service announced.

The current death toll makes it the worst attack on Moscow since February 2004, when a suicide bombing killed at least 39 people on a metro train.

According to Reuter's archives, the first known attack inside Russia's Metro occurred during the time of Leonid Brezhnev, when a bomb planted in a carriage in January 1977 by Armenian separatists killed seven people and injured another 37.

New York police sources on the scene indicate that bomb technicians, crime scene units, investigating detectives, crime lab personnel and others are following a predetermined set of procedures for investigating this bomb incident. Russian police officers and detectives on the scene of an explosion must first gather evidence in order to better understand what they are dealing with, as well as for future prosecutions. Here's a look at how Moscow authorities will conduct their investigation:

As with the current investigation of the Moscow bombings, the actual search of the scene of an explosion is possibly the most important aspect of the investigation. Investigators will start with a quick visual search in order to familiarize themselves with the area. They always keep in mind that there could be multiple bombs planted in the immediate area of the blast and these additional bombs are planted for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill or maim the emergency personnel who respond to the initial blast or to kill or maim investigators. If a suspicious object is sighted during this phase of the crime scene search, detectives and other emergency personnel will evacuate the scene until bomb technicians can determine the nature of the threat or disarm the additional devices.

Once the visual search is completed, with the utmost care and continuous caution, detectives and police officers will start removing large pieces of debris from the area of the explosion. They will keep in mind that there could be live electrical wires or ruptured gas lines in the immediate work area. The scene of an explosion is viewed as hazardous at all times.

When any of the large pieces of debris are removed, they are stored within a protected location, catalogued as to the description and place of recovery, name of the officer involved, and held at the location for a subsequent detailed search. After the large pieces are moved and secured, detectives and officers must get on their hands and knees and start searching the debris looking for anything that appears foreign to the scene such as: leg wire (color-coded wire used in blasting caps); parts of a blasting cap; remains of a safety fuse; battery fragments; metal pipe fragments; other metal fragments (clock, propane tank, etc.); and bomb container fragments (metal, leather, canvas, cloth, etc.).

Whenever anything considered significant is found, it will be bagged and marked for identification purposes. The location, time, date, name of officer or detective, shield (badge) number and command will always be marked on evidence bags. If there are other data, these will be written on a separate report form or piece of paper and enclosed in the evidence bag. Investigators will never mark or deface the actual recovered evidence.

Detectives and officers at a blast scene will be persistent and they may have to go over the same area numerous times before uncovering anything of value. Ultimately, they will have to conduct a sifting operation because some objects such as watch springs and other internal mechanisms are so small that they could easily be overlooked by investigators.

The type of search to be conducted at the scene of an explosion will be determined by the bomb techs and investigators will be guided by their decisions. A properly conducted search may yield fingerprints, serial numbers, manufacturers names, price tags and many other investigative aids which would eventually help in solving the crime.

Additional witnesses to interview will include: the first police officers at the scene; maintenance workers and other employees and residents within the premises; residents and employees of adjoining or adjacent buildings; delivery men, cab drivers, transients, and anyone who frequents or walks through the area.

Detectives and officers will also canvass the area for all license plates or motor vehicles parked within the area of the explosion. They will also check with all utility companies for any emergency crews that may have been working in the area of the bomb blast. In short, anyone who may have even the smallest piece of information will be interviewed by detectives and assisting uniformed officers. And investigating officers will double check to make sure that they have all the necessary information before concluding the neighborhood canvass. If close-circuit television cameras are installed in the areas of the attacks, the videotapes will be viewed and analyzed, as is being done in Moscow.

If investigators take all of the required steps and follow the aforementioned format, they will find that they are able to answer questions from their commanding officers, and in the event that arrests are made, their case folders will be helpful in the preparation of the eventual prosecution and adjudication of the bomb incident suspects.


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