Security expert: Anything undetonated will be key

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BOSTON-- 4/15/13-- An officer from the Transit Police Special Operations carries an automatic weapon after two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Daily News STAFF Photo by Ken McGagh

A South Shore homeland security expert said any suspicious packages police find near the Boston Marathon finish line after today's bombings would contain crucial intelligence about what happened.

"What we really need is the information from the bomb technicians that are on scene," said former State Police officer Todd McGhee, co-founder of Protecting The Homeland Innovations, a security training firm in Braintree. "If there is a device that's been disrupted, and they're able to gather the technology from that (improvised explosive device), we’ll be able to have a lot of insight as far as how the detonations were planned."

Police are investigating what have been reported as several suspicious packages in the area, though Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis did not confirm at a late afternoon press conference that any other explosive decides had been found.

If any devices were found that were intended to detonate but didn't, McGhee said it will likely tell authorities how the bomber executed the plan.

"In most cases, bomb makers have a signature when they make their IEDs," he said. "If a particular bomb maker wants to make a device (explode) with a cell phone detonation, then all of the devices will be consistent with that."

McGhee said the incidents had all of the trappings of a terrorist attack.

"I have a very strong feeling that this was a planned event," he said. "It just seems so consistent with a planned attack. The finish line is going to be obviously the most impact, it's going to provide the greatest number of people in a specific spot. If I'm going to target something, where am I going to get the most casualties? Also, think about the media exposure at the finish line."

McGhee said the early indicators he's seen "look like it was probably remote detonation."

"There's no eyewitness (account) or a person walking up with a backpack and pulling and having a device that’s situated on their hip or something like a thumb pressure switch."