The Boston Bombing 'Suspects' and the Story of the Victim Who ID'd One

The FBI has released images of two suspects in the Boston Marathon attack, and the public investigation was on — until a late-night situation unfolded in Watertown, the FBI released two more photos, and a report surfaced that a suspect had been captured.

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Here's the latest from our continuing coverage of the Boston Marathon — the healing, the response, and the investigation.

The Latest


Update, 2:25 a.m. Eastern: The Boston Globe reports the situation unfolding Watertown has resulted in one Boston Marathon bombing suspect being captured, and one on the loose. Click here for live updates, as the situation unfolds with new photos released by the FBI after 2 a.m.

  • One of the more extraordinary details from the suspect photo release collided with the one of the most heartbreaking stories of the Boston bombing saga by way of Bloomberg News on Thursday night. Jeff Bauman, the young victim depicted in the instantly iconic photo of the aftermath, helped the FBI identify one of the suspects when he woke up in the hospital. Asjylyn Loder and Esmé E. Deprez report that Bauman saw the suspect drop a bag at his feet two-and-a-half minutes before it exploded. "He woke up under so much drugs," Bauman's brother Chris told Bloomberg News, "asked for a paper and pen and wrote, 'bag, saw the guy, looked right at me.'" Read the gripping account in full at Bloomberg News.
  • The New York Times published a high resolution photo late Thursday night showing Suspect 2 taking a right on Fairfield Street. The photo first surfaced via Reddit, and some suspected that it had been Photoshopped. The suspect is the man in the white hat, believed to be the only one of the two suspects authorities have footage of dropping a backpack thought to be an explosive device, and the photo surfaced on Facebook Monday.
  • The cable news network all cut in live in the 1 a.m. hour after FBI presence and lots of police descended on a scene in Watertown, Massachusetts, after a killing at MIT. Much more here.
  • In a shocking and long awaited development in a terror investigation that has gripped a nation and the world, the FBI on Thursday evening released 11 photographs and a video of two "suspects" in the Boston Marathon bombing — men with backpacks investigators say planted the explosives within minutes of Monday's blasts, men who don't appear to fit the picture painted by at least one TV commentator as a "dark-skinned male." They are "armed and dangerous," and the authorities need you to help find them.
  • You can find photos of the suspects here and below. The video released by the agency is also below, along with much more of the immediate aftermath of the image release — and here are multiple GIFs put together by The Atlantic Wire based on those videos:

  • Looks like the Reddit crew may have tracked down the hat on Suspect 2 as well:

  • CBS News, however, reports differently: "Authorities believe both baseball caps have logos that are Bridgestone Golf." CBS also reports that the photos appear to be, at least so far, doing their job: 

CBS News has learned that FBI is reporting record traffic on its web sites as people go online to view stills and video of the suspected Boston bombers. The FBI is also getting an extremely high number of phone calls and emails.

  • Per Reddit, the video footage appear to be from close-circuit cameras at the Whiskey's steakhouse on Boylston Street.
  • A Reddit user also seems to have stumbled upon, by accident, a non-FBI photo of Suspect 1, which, when zoomed in, shows some details of a hood from the back:

  • Indeed, speaking to the ongoing crowdsourced nature of the investigation, the FBI has launched a new tip site. "The response from the community has been tremendous. We are fortunate enough that there is a wealth of documentary evidence available," co-creator Sean Durkin told The Boston Globe. "We currently have over 2.3 gigabytes of video and photo data from the immediate vicinity of the marathon finish line."
  • DesLauriers, the special agent in charge of the investigation, stressed that this is an active investigation, and not to approach the suspects, as they are deemed "armed and dangerous." If you have any information please call: 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) and/or email the FBI's Boston Division:
  • There may be names, according to CBS Boston — either witheld, about to be revealed, or something else:
  • Check that: "leads" on names, per "sources"....
  • Suspect 1:

  • This is Suspect 2:

  • Here's the surveillance video:
  • And here are the two of them walking together:

  • Below, via via imgur, is a compilation of all the photos provided by the FBI. DesLauriers, in his brief remarks while unveiling the photos on two easels at a Boston hotel Thursday evening, was emphatic that "these images should be the only ones, I emphasize the only ones, that the public should view to assist us. Other photos should not be deemed credible and they unnecessarily divert the public’s attention in the wrong direction and create undue work for vital law enforcement resources." That was an apparent reference to other photos that had been passed around, most notably on Thursday photos that appeared in the New York Post (scroll down  or click here for more on the suspect who wasn't, the investigation at large, and President Obama's remarks at an interfaith ceremony in Boston today).

Here are the FBI's two wanted posters:

  • Again, the investigators are referring to these two people as suspects — not persons of interest.  DesLauriers, the special agent in charge, said at the briefing: 

After a very detailed analysis of photo, video and other evidence, we are releasing photos of these two suspects. They are identified as suspect 1 and suspect 2. They appear to be associated. Suspect 1 is wearing a dark hat, suspect 2 is wearing a white hat. Suspect 2 set down a backpack at the site of the second explosion.


“As you can see from one of the images, suspects 1 and 2 appear to be walking together through the marathon crowd on Boylston Street in the direction of the finish line. That image was captured as they walked on Boylston in the vicinity of the intersection with Gloucester Street. As you can see the quality of the photos is quite good. We will continue to work on developing additional images to improve their identification value.

Here's how the rest of Day Four of the Boston Marathon aftermath played out:

The Delay of the Big Reveal

As Day Four of the Boston Marathon bombing investigation began, several outlets were reporting that the FBI-led investigation was on the verge of releasing what they believed to be photos of two men involved with the bombings. The Boston Globe reported that the FBI had obtained video stills of "two separate suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings carrying black bags at each explosion site and are planning to release the images today in an appeal for the public's help in identifying the men, according to an official briefed on the case." In a Congressional hearing today, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano tempered that lead, stating she "wouldn't characterize them as 'suspects' under the technical term. But we need the public's help in locating these individuals." And she said, perhaps explaining the complexity of forensic analysis still being done, that "there's lots and lots of video. There is some video that has raised the question of those that the FBI would like to speak with." So what have we been waiting for?

The plan sounded simple enough: The FBI needs the public's help, and planned to release photos to help put names and bodies to photos and video And you'd think if these suspects and/or people of interest were very important and/or dangerous, you'd want to get that information out sooner rather than later, right? So why is the conference only happening at 5 p.m.? Slate spoke to an expert:

Gregory D. Lee, a longtime supervisory special agent for the DEA and now a criminal justice consultant, notes that it’s possible the video footage isn’t the FBI’s best or only lead. "To me, there’s something behind the scenes that they're working on," says Lee, noting that the agency might be waiting to see whether these other leads pan out before deciding to release the footage. 

And he could be right: A new lead might mean the investigation veering off and needing more time to confirm that lead. But according to Reuters, the FBI also seems to be trying to figure out whether or not releasing these photos is the right thing to do: "There is an intense debate inside the government as to whether such photographs should be officially released and the public should be asked for help identifying people in them."

The Service (and President Obama)

(Photo by Pete Souza/White House)

At a rousing speech toward the end of a interfaith service early Thursday afternoon in Boston — the latest in a string of too many after American tragedy — President Obama said the city of Boston "will run again," and he directly addressed the "small stunted individuals" responsible for the attack, promising that "yes, we will find you, and, yes, you will face justice." Before the service, Obama met with the family of Krytle Campbell, one of the victims was killed in the Monday bombing. Here's his speech, after which he traveled to Massachusetts General Hospital to meet with families of the injured:

Scroll down for more the latest on that investigation, and for some highlights from the many remarks at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Key Passages from Remarks at the Service:

President Obama

  • "But we also come together today to reclaim that state of grace, to reaffirm that the spirit of this city is undaunted and the spirit of this country shall remain undimmed."
  • "I am here today on behalf of the American people with a simple message — every one of us stands with you ... because after all, it's our beloved city, too."
  • "There's a piece of Boston in me."
  • "No more hurting people. Peace." he said, quoting Martin Richard, the eight-year-old victim in Monday's bombing.
  • "As you begin this long journey of recovery, your city is with you.  Your commonwealth is with you.  Your country is with you.  We will all be with you as you learn to stand and walk and, yes, run again.  Of that I have no doubt.  You will run again."
  • "If they sought to terrorize... it should be pretty that they picked the wrong city to do it. Not here in Boston. Not here in Boston."
  • "Yes we will find you, and yes, you will face justice ... our fidelity to our way of life ... will only grow stronger."
  • "We may momentarily be knocked off our feet. We will pick ourselves up. We will keep going. We will finish the race."
  • "That’s why a bomb can’t beat us.  That’s why we don’t hunker down.  That’s why we don’t cower in fear.  We carry on.  We race. We strive.  We build, and we work, and we love —and we raise our kids to do the same.  And we come together to celebrate life, and to walk our cities, and to cheer for our teams.  When the Sox and Celtics and Patriots or Bruins are champions again —to the chagrin of New York and Chicago fans— the crowds will gather and watch a parade go down Boylston Street."
  • And this time next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever, and to cheer even louder, for the 118th Boston Marathon. Bet on it.  

Mayor Thomas Menino

  • "We are one Boston. Nothing can tear down the resilience of this city."
  • "Even with the smell of smoke in the air, blood in the streets, and tears in our eyes we triumphed over that hateful act on Monday afternoon."

Governor Deval Patrick

  • "In a dark hour, so many of you showed so many of us that darkness cannot drive out darkness ... only light can do that."
  • "Massachusetts invented America."
  • "The grace this tragedy exposed is the best of who we are."

Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley

  • "We must overcome the culture of death by promoting a culture of life."
  • "We will not to be overcome by evil but combat evil with good."

Of the investigation, the White House Press Secretary assistant Josh Earnest said aboard Air Force One en route to Boston: "I would just reiterate something that the FBI mentioned yesterday, is to urge caution as we're reporting out some of these facts. There are often unintended consequences of these erroneous reports so I would just encourage caution." Scroll down for the latest on that investigation, and stay tuned to this post throughout the day for the latest on all things Boston.

The Suspects (or Suspect, or Single 'Person of Interest')

A "fast-moving" investigation involving multiple law enforcement agencies and led by a special FBI photo analysis and cellphone team may be ready to release "clear video images of two separate suspects" in the Boston Marathon bombing today, according to multiple reports often quoting a single law enforcement official this morning. Any planned release would likely not conflict with President Obama's remarks at an interfaith service in Boston at 11 a.m., but the authorities' release of suspect photos — intended to help track down men connected to "an act of terror," and possibly only involving a single "person of interest" — would certainly set off as much of a public frenzy as they already have a confusing media narrative.

The Boston Globe reports on its website this morning that it's "unclear why authorities did not publicize images of the unidentified suspects yesterday," when a dizzying array of what Gov. Deval Patrick called "misinformation" took hold amidst reports (notably from CNN) of the "clear video" and an arrest of a single suspect or person of interest that never happened. But multiple outlets are reporting that the photos have been circulated among local law enforcement and perhaps at transportation hubs, and the Globe's single source now says the photos of two unnamed men are coming today, to help in the hunt:

Authorities have clear video images of two separate suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings carrying black bags at each explosion site and are planning to release the images today in an appeal for the public’s help in identifying the men, according to an official briefed on the case.

The Globe's source adds that the best images of these two men don't come from the Lord & Taylor surveillance camera that led to so much speculation on Wednesday; they come from cameras on the same side of the street as the explosions. (Here's our map of the crime scene.)

But don't take the Boston newspaper of record's word for it — even after the Globe clarified its arrest report attribution on Twitter to CNN on Wednesday, a source told the paper that one person was in custody, which wasn't true. And John Miller of CBS News, a veteran of the FBI and the NYPD who interviewed Osama bin Laden and whose actual sourcing was key to the public learning the early truth about Newtown, maintained on the radio today that while images will be released today, they will have to do with a single "person of interest."

Update, 11:41 a.m. Eastern: At a congressional hearing this morning, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano confirmed, by way of careful answers to questions under oath, that the FBI is looking for more than one person. The Globe reports:

She said there were "individuals" the FBI would like to speak to. "I wouldn’t characterize them as 'suspects' under the technical term. But we need the public’s help in locating these individuals," she said.

Responding to questions about a report about a debunked report, that a Saudi man was somehow being deported in connection with the case, Napolitano dismissed the rumor:

The New York Times is also going with two "potential" suspects, with more on the bags:

Investigators have found clear video images of two potential suspects carrying black bags, one at the site of each explosion, a person briefed on the investigation said. The men appeared to capture the interest of law-enforcement officials because of their bags: crime scene investigators recovered portions of a shredded black backpack that they believe carried explosives, the person said, and they were able to determine the brand and model of the bag. The backpack carried by at least one of the men seen in the videos appeared to be similar, the person said.

The Los Angeles Times, which quoted multiple sources about two men "with two backpacks" on Wednesday, maintains today that the two men "were singled out because of their demeanor and the way in which they reacted to the bomb blasts." Over at NBC News, veteran Justice Department correspondent Pete Williams has been cautious and correct on nearly everything amidst the flood of anonymous reports in the Boston case. This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Williams said authorities were looking for two men, partly because of "a bonanza of pictures" to come in from the crowdsourced pack of evidence, and partly because of surveillance camera footage. In a photo, Williams said, one young man has a heavy backpack that he sets it down just before he goes away — there is a clear picture of his face — and he also talks on a cellphone to another man. "Authorities don't know who these men are," Williams said. Williams and NBC News's Erin McClam report that a single photo has been circulated, but it's unclear if the men are suspects — or if the public will see this picture:

Authorities investigating the attack on the Boston Marathon focused Thursday on finding two men seen on camera including one who set down a black bag and dashed away just before the bombs went off ... The FBI distributed a photo to other federal law enforcement agencies of the men.

About the timing of any release, Williams said in the 8 a.m. hour of Morning Joe that it "seems to be heading that way" — of a public release within "a couple hours." The president's speech at the service may complicate that: "President Obama is visiting Boston today, and the timing of a law enforcement briefing remained unclear," reports The Globe.

Meanwhile, The New York Post is going for broke. After whiffing on the Saudi "suspect" scoop (not true), and then striking out with its report of 12 casualties (not true), the Post continues its curious, way too ahead of the game to be true reporting on the Boston investigation with a front page today that reads, simply and very presumptuously: BAG MEN. The Post runs multiple images of two men because... well, the Post says they found an email:

"The attached photos are being circulated in an attempt to identify the individuals highlighted therein," said an e-mail obtained by The Post. "Feel free to pass this around to any of your fellow agents elsewhere."

We've obscured the images from the Post website at right. Note that the Post doesn't say where this email came from, but they do add — six paragraphs into the story and after the unobscured photos — that, well, that this is absurd:

It was not immediately clear if the men in the law-enforcement photos are the same men in the surveillance videos.

NBC's Williams said of the photos on Morning Joe that "a couple of officials trying to wave of us off of them." CBS's Miller is more straightforward:

It's unclear if these two unidentified, unverified, singled-out men in the Post photos are even persons of interest with the multiple law enforcement agencies working on photo IDs, cellphone records (for detonation and/or coordination), and, you know, the bombs.

Update, 2:14 p.m.: The Post is sticking by its story of posting the picture of two innocent men on their cover today and insinuating that they were involved with the Boston bombings.  To their credit, The Post ran a story clearing the men at around 1:45 p.m.—after a morning of criticism and assertions from the likes of CBS's John Miller (above), stating that the men were not targeted by the FBI. But Editor Col Allan told Salon that they're still sticking by their story because they stopped short of calling them "suspects":

We stand by our story. The image was emailed to law enforcement agencies yesterday afternoon seeking information about these men, as our story reported. We did not identify them as suspects.

According to Reddit, where many untold stories are being told by citizen journalists and truth hounds, the photos have been passed around — maybe not among "fellow agents" but certainly online — and they've already had a very negative impact on at least one of the men's lives, as people have begun to find his social media accounts:

As Gawker's Max Read found, The Post's person of interest is just a local track star who like stuff like The Hunger Games. Of course, social forums like Reddit and 4Chan aren't exactly the gleaming examples of responsibility. Granted, by poring over photos from the Copley Square scene, the sites' users have brought a riveting dynamic into what's become the most crowdsourced terror investigation in American history. But they also have drawn attention to people who might be innocent — the two men in the Post photo were circulated on Reddit yesterday.

Stay tuned to this post for more Day Four updates on Boston, including the president's remarks, victim updates, and more. The Atlantic Wire's complete coverage of the marathon can be found here.

The Patients

After President Obama's speech, he visited patients, family and staff at Massachusetts General hospital. At Mass General, there were only 11 patients left in their care this morning — five in serious condition and six in fair. And according to the AP, "Officials at three Boston hospitals that treated some of the most seriously injured from Monday's bombing at the Boston Marathon said Wednesday they expect all of their patients to survive." That's good news considering the injured count was over 170 two days ago. The Boston Globe has an updated list of the bombing victims.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.