The Wakefield man charged with creating a disturbance at the Boston Marathon finish line told police he was preoccupied with his “performance” when he walked barefoot, draped in a long black veil, carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker, down Boylston Street Tuesday night.
Kevin Edson was arraigned today in Boston Municipal Court on misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, and disturbing a public assembly, and felony charges of possession or use of a hoax device and making a false bomb threat.
Boston Municipal Court Judge Michael Coyne set bail at $100,000 cash at the request of Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office.
The judge also ordered Edson to be sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for a competency evaluation after court mental health expert Jeffrey Miner told him that Edson was an intelligent man with a history of hospitalizations for mental illness.
Miner told the judge that he had spoken with the 25-year-old Edson and with Edson’s parents and sister and learned that Edson had not taken his medication for the past three to four months, leading Miner to question whether Edson could make rational decisions.
The incident rattled the public’s nerves because it came on the anniversary of the terror bombings at the Marathon finish line that killed three people and injured more than 260 others. The city had marked the anniversary earlier with solemn ceremonies honoring the victims, survivors, and those who have helped them. The race is slated to be run again Monday and officials are promising tight security.
According to a police report filed in court, Edson told arresting officers that the rice cooker he was carrying inside the backpack was not an explosive device. He also explained his behavior, which included shouting out loud as he walked down the street.
“I knew what I was doing, it was being conceived in my head. It’s symbolism,’’ Edson allegedly told police after being informed of his Miranda rights. “The performance got the best of me.’’
Conley said “there could not have been a worse time or place for this inexcusable behavior.”
“If this was a performance, it was the most irresponsible, senseless, and selfish performance I can imagine,” Conley said in a statement. “It was akin to shouting ‘fire’ in a theater. People were put in fear, public transportation was disrupted, and a day of somber remembrance and reflection was marred by this defendant’s choices.”
Edson’s family issued a statement saying he had “multiple mental health issues,’’ including a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. The statement appeared to come from Edson’s mother, Joie, who said that she and her daughter had themselves run the Marathon six times for charity.
“It’s a glorious event that embraces the spirit of friendly competition and good will,’’ the statement said. “Crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon is a feeling of accomplishment that can not be described. … Our family is so sorry and emotionally overwhelmed by the events that occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon” Tuesday.
In the statement, the family said they were facing a tumultuous time, as Edson’s father battles Stage 4 head and neck cancer.
The statement applauded the city, first responders, Marathon runners, and the region’s medical community for being “Boston Strong.”
“What is NOT strong is the mental health system in Boston, our state, our country and the world. I have two sons who struggle with mental illness and I have had to constantly fight for twelve years to get them the help they need,’’ the statement said.
“We wish the runners of the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day a wonderful and celebratory day. Run Strong and enjoy your wonderful feeling as you cross that finish line,’’ the statement concluded.
The Massachusetts College of Art and Design said that an “undergraduate non-residential student has been arrested by Boston police. ... The College takes these matters very seriously and holds people accountable for their actions should they be found responsible.”
The school is cooperating with police and “committed to keeping our campus and community safe, secure and informed,” the school said in a statement on its website.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said at a news conference that Edson’s behavior and the fact that he was carrying a backpack led officers to approach Edson. Evans said Edson did not breach security because Boylston Street was open to pedestrians at the time.
When this year’s Marathon is held on Monday, Evans said, people are being asked to leave their backpacks and strollers at home.
“We’re not forbidding backpacks. We’re not forbidding strollers. But it will make our jobs a lot easier,’’ Evans said. “I don’t want anybody’s anxiety to be put up. ... That’s what troubles me about what happened last night.’’
Evans also said he was saddened to see the incident garnering so much attention just hours after the city had hosted a powerful memorial service to mark the bombing anniversary. The service had included a moment of silence and flag-raising at the finish line.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he did not believe the incident with Edson indicated any problems with the security strategy created for Monday’s marathon, in part because of Edson’s personal history.
“The guy wasn’t right, I don’t think,’’ Walsh said in an interview. “Just the whole idea around that was terrible.”
Walsh said he was “very confident’’ about the quality of the security that will be deployed Monday.
“There’s a lot of excitement on the street. People are excited,’’ he said. “There is a good police presence out there. That’s going to continue through the rest of the week and into the weekend. And then Monday or some point Sunday night, the street will be shut down. They will be doing sweeps of the street to make sure the street is safe.’’
Walsh also urged the public to use “common sense’’ when deciding whether to bring backpacks into Boston on Monday.
Police said today that when Edson was arrested around 7 p.m. Tuesday his face was painted blue and yellow. Some videos of Edson taken Tuesday night show him wearing an outfit and veil.
The clothing appeared similar to what he wore on a YouTube video called “Purgatory Vacation.’’
The video, which was linked to Edson’s website, was shot as if it took place in a padded room and opened with a character wearing a straitjacket. At one point, the character says, “I don’t know when my mind went awry.’’
On Tuesday, the Boston police bomb squad performed a controlled detonation of the rice cooker in Edson’s backpack as a precaution.
A second backpack, originally believed to belong to Edson, was also detonated by police. It has since been determined to have belonged to a local media outlet, police said today.
On a Facebook page that appeared to belong to Edson, there was a photograph of Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev with the headline, “had a blast at the marathon.’’