U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Americans are in a "direct confrontation with evil" this week, as a door-to-door manhunt continued in Boston for the surviving suspect in the deadly marathon bombings.
Officials across the U.S. and around the world offered little in the way of conclusions about the bombing suspects -- one killed last night after a shootout with police, the other at large and believed dangerous -- as they watched developments unfold on television and in high-level private briefings.
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"Like everyone, we're going to keep watching, and we'll await word from the law enforcement officers before commenting further," Kerry said earlier today at the State Department in Washington, after participating via videoconference in a White House briefing on the investigation.
President Barack Obama huddled with Kerry and other top national security officials at the White House, as his staff canceled the regular midday press briefing and questions swirled about the suspects, their possible motives and how the law enforcement effort would end.
More than 400 miles to the northeast, police had the Boston areas on lockdown as they searched for 19-year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the Kyrgystan-born man suspected of carrying out the April 15 attack with his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a shootout with police after a night of violence that claimed the life of a campus police officer.
"This is crazy," Tagg Romney, the son of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said in a posting on the micro-messaging social network Twitter. "We are locked down in our home. Don't understand why these monsters have done this."
Kerry thanked and congratulated law enforcement, saying: "In the past few days, we've seen the best and we've seen the worst of human behavior."
Tsarnaev was born in Kyrgyzstan, and his older brother Tamerlan, the second suspect who was killed, was born in Russia, according to two U.S. law enforcement officials who asked for anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter. At least one of the two was a naturalized U.S. citizen, according to the officials.
Russia is "very attentively watching" the developments, said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In Washington, where members of Congress had mostly departed after having finished the week's legislative business yesterday, up-to-date information was difficult to come by even for lawmakers and administration officials. Through the day, they were glued to cable television along with their staffs to follow the latest developments.
At the Capitol, on alert all week after the discovery of a ricin-laced letter to a senator and another to Obama, the visitor's center was briefly evacuated yesterday after reports of a suspicious package. At the same time, the potential ripple effects of the bombings were reverberating.
At a hearing to discuss a bipartisan rewrite of immigration laws unveiled this week, some lawmakers said information about the bombing suspects should influence how Congress handles the issue.
"Given the events of this week, it is important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system," said Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, who has opposed previous efforts to offer legal status to undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., as the measure would do.
"While we don't yet know the immigration status of people who have terrorized the communities of Massachusetts," Grassley added, it could "shed light on the weaknesses of our system."
Democratic proponents of the measure urged lawmakers not to allow the situation in Boston to derail it. People shouldn't "jump to conclusions" and "conflate" the events in Boston with the immigration rewrite proposal, said Senator Charles Schumer of New York.
A coalition of organizations pressing for the measure scrapped its usual Friday immigration briefing in light of the unfolding saga in Boston.
"It's premature to jump to final conclusions about the attackers, and it's shameful that some on the far right are politicizing and demagoguing this issue," Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice Education Fund, said in a statement announcing the cancellation. "Those exploiting this tragedy in hopes of derailing immigration reform were opponents of reform long before this week."
With assistance from Roxana Tiron. Jim Rowley and Phil Mattingly in Washington, and Stepan Kravchenko in Sochi, Russia.