Public asked to help ID suspects in Boston blasts
BOSTON — Plucking a couple of blurry faces in baseball caps out of a swarming crowd, the FBI zeroed in on two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing and shared surveillance camera images of them with the world on Thursday in hopes the public will help hunt them down.
The photos and video depict one young man in a dark cap and another in a white cap worn backward, both carrying backpacks and one walking behind the other on the sidewalk near the finish line as marathoners run by.
The man in the white hat was seen setting down a backpack at the site of the second explosion, said Richard DesLauriers, FBI agent in charge in Boston.
“Somebody out there knows these individuals as friends, neighbors, co-workers or family members of the suspects,” he said. “Though it may be difficult, the nation is counting on those with information to come forward and provide it to us.”
They looked much like typical college students, but DesLauriers described them as armed and extremely dangerous, and urged anyone who sees or knows them to tell law enforcement and “do not take any action on your own.”
The break in the investigation occurred three days after the attack that killed three people, tore off limbs and raised the specter of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. FBI photo-analysis specialists have been analyzing a mountain of surveillance footage and amateur pictures and videos for clues to who carried out the attack and why.
The volume of information is likely to grow, joined now by a torrent of tips from people who think they might know the suspects.
In releasing the images, the FBI gambled that useful clues will emerge, not just time-wasting leads.
Authorities are selective in putting out images of suspects because doing so risks tipping off the hunted and losing the element of surprise. But it can be a last resort when authorities hit a wall trying to identify or capture someone.
Within moments of the announcement, the FBI website crashed, perhaps because of a crush of visitors.
The images were released hours after President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attended an interfaith service in a Roman Catholic cathedral in Boston to remember the dead and the more than 180 wounded in the twin blasts Monday at the finish line of the 26.2-mile race.
The FBI video is a compilation of segments, altogether about 30 seconds long. The planting of the backpack, as described by authorities, was not part of the footage made public.
The man in the dark hat was dubbed Suspect 1 and appeared to be wearing sunglasses.
The other, in the white hat, was labeled Suspect 2. Both appeared to be wearing dark jackets. The FBI did not comment on the men's height, weight, age range or ethnicity.
“It would be inappropriate to comment on the ethnicity of the men because it could lead people down the wrong path potentially,” said FBI agent Greg Comcowich.
While authorities said the information on the men began to gel over the previous day or so, agent Daniel Curtin said the FBI did not release the photos earlier because “it's important to get it right.”
Distribution of the images brought both encouragement and unease to some Bostonians.
Jennifer Lauro of Topsfield, Mass., worried that the photos might breed unease and suspicion.
“It just looks like a college kid, so I think that's going to make people feel vulnerable,” she said. “... It looks like any kid from Boston College or Boston University or any other school.”
Judy and Marc Ehrlich watched the marathon from a spot between miles 25 and 26 on Monday and felt the ground shake when the bombs exploded. They are comforted that the FBI has suspects.
“Unless they kill themselves, they're going to get found,” Marc Ehrlich said. He added: “There's nowhere in the world to hide.”
At the Cathedral of the Holy Cross earlier in the day, Obama declared to the people of Boston: “Your resolve is the greatest rebuke to whoever committed this heinous act.” He spoke in almost mocking terms of those who commit such violence.
“We finish the race, and we do that because of who we are,” the president said to applause. “And that's what the perpetrators of such senseless violence — these small, stunted individuals who would destroy instead of build and think somehow that makes them important — that's what they don't understand.”
“We will find you,” he warned.
Seven victims remained in critical condition. Killed were Martin Richard, 8, of Boston; restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29, of Medford, Mass.; and Lu Lingzi, 23, a Boston University graduate student from China.
Video and photos recovered in the investigation are being examined and enhanced by an FBI unit called the Operational Technologies Division, said Joe DiZinno, former director of the FBI lab in Quantico, Va.
Investigators are looking at video frame by frame — a laborious process, though one aided by far more sophisticated facial recognition technology than is commercially available, forensic specialists said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Buffet: Berkshire’s built to last
- Most young Republicans back legal marijuana
- Perceived slights have some New Yorkers longing for Pennsylvania
- Huge, ancient quasar could alter theories on black holes
- Monarch butterflies find milkweed supply dwindles
- Florida fisherman’s high court win spurs call for legal reform
- Mo. gunman kills 7, self, in rampage
- Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects Jewish House Democrats’ invitation
- Congress approves 1-week funding measure for Homeland Security
- Suspects’ search of victims’ homes OK’d in Colorado
- Gene making human brains bigger found