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FBI releases photos of marathon suspects. Vindication for surveillance video?

FBI releases photos of striking clarity of two Boston Marathon bombing suspects, taken by closed-circuit television surveillance cameras. Government CCTV systems are used more widely in Europe than in the US.

By Staff writer / April 18, 2013

Suspects wanted for questioning in relation to Monday's Boston Marathon bombings are seen in photos presented during an FBI news conference in Boston, Thursday.

Courtesy of FBI / Reuters

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Federal authorities are seeking two unidentified men in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing, their faces recorded with striking clarity by street video surveillance cameras and their images dramatically revealed early Thursday evening at a press conference in Boston.

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Both suspects, who were observed walking through the crowd of spectators at the marathon, wore dark jackets and carried backpacks. The first man, dubbed Suspect One by the FBI, had a dark cap and khaki pants. The other, called Suspect Two, wore a backward white cap and was seen leaving a backpack near the site of the second of the two explosions.

At the press conference, Boston FBI chief Richard DesLauriers presented still images and video – both posted to the FBI website – that show the two men walking together, one following the other. Investigators earlier had displayed pictures of charred and blasted parts of a black nylon backpack retrieved after the explosions, which killed three people and wounded 176 others Monday afternoon.

Mr. DesLauriers said both men are considered armed and extremely dangerous and warned the public against approaching either man. He requested that anyone with information about the men should just contact the FBI.

Although not depicted in the pictures or video released Thursday, one suspect is seen in a video still held by the FBI setting down a backpack at the site of the second explosion in front of the Forum Restaurant, DesLauriers said. Both suspects appear to be walking together through the marathon crowd on Boylston Street in the direction of the finish line, he said.

Picking out two suspects from thousands of people in the crowd required painstaking analysis and the sifting of thousands of videos and pictures submitted to authorities by the public and taken from surveillance video cameras.

“Within the last day or so, through that careful process, we initially developed a single person of interest, not knowing if the individual was acting alone or in concert with others,” DesLauriers said. “We obviously worked with extreme purpose to make that determination ... and through that process the FBI developed a second suspect.”

As the official investigation moved forward, a parallel probe was being carried out by amateur sleuths online. The armchair detectives are busy analyzing the many photos available online, showing the Marathon Day finish line both before and after the blasts.

In effect, the investigation has become partly “crowd-sourced” – farmed out (intentionally or not) to public forums where people are sifting photos for clues. Many images are now annotated with colored circles around potential clues, such as an individual labeled with “bag” in one photo and “no bag” in another.

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