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Amateur photographers capture key images of bombing suspects

By Carol Druga & Terry Spencer

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 05:39 p.m. HST, Apr 19, 2013


When the FBI released images of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, Bob Leonard used the time stamp shown on them to narrow his search of the hundreds of photos he had snapped that day. He realized that he, too, had photos of the faces of the two men authorities were searching for and used the FBI tip line to upload them.

Thursday morning, he saw his cropped photos all over the morning news.

"That finally gave them a good facial picture," the 58-year-old electrical engineer said. "It was a pretty good breakthrough."

Leonard and his family had attended many marathons and he preferred a spot not too far from the finish line. The area was less congested and over the years, the men and women in the lead there usually went on to win. With his Nikon, Leonard snapped about 10 to 20 photos a minute, capturing group after group of finishing runners and the crowds lining the route.

As he looked through his pictures, he saw a sequence with the two men, later identified as brothers, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in shootout with police overnight Thursday, and 19-year-old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, distinctive in his backward white baseball cap. The younger man was captured tonight after a daylong siege of a Boston suburb.

"They actually stood in that corner for quite a bit of time," Leonard of Taunton, Mass., said Thursday just before the younger brother was caught.

When he was sure he had something the FBI could use Wednesday, he tried to upload them to an FBI site that it had asked the public to use. Then he called the hotline number and was on hold for about 40 minutes, the response was so overwhelming. He finally got an FBI spokesman, who told him to upload them to another site. Within 20 minutes, someone from Homeland Security called him back.

"They were on the news ... clear pictures of the two subjects and those were the pictures that I sent in," said Leonard, who started photography as a hobby when his sons played high school sports.

He was not the only picture-taker to help with images of the suspects. Seconds after the bombs exploded, David Green pulled out his smartphone and took a photo of the chaos developing a couple hundred yards in front of him — the smoke, the people running in panic.

The Jacksonville businessman then put his phone back in his pocket and went to help the injured. It wasn't until Thursday, when officials released surveillance video of the two suspects, that Green realized what he had — a picture of Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev walking away from the scene.

When Green's photo of one of the Boston bombing suspects fleeing the scene first surfaced, there was considerable doubt as to its authenticity because of the very low resolution of the image, which made the photo appear to be a composite image. When Green later provided the high-resolution frame directly from his cellphone, editors of The Associated Press were able to establish its authenticity based on the improved resolution as well as the time the photo was taken. The AP has established an exclusive arrangement for distribution of the photograph.

Green, back at his home in Florida, wore his yellow and blue Boston Marathon jersey as he talked about the now-famous photo, his finisher's medal from the race propped on a shelf in his home office.

Green, 49, had finished Monday's marathon in 3 hours and 17 minutes, about an hour before the blasts.

After he recovered, he went back to Boylston Street, where the finish line is located, to watch the rest of the race with his friends. He realized his phone was dying, so he went into a nearby store with a recharging station.

About 15 minutes later, he was walking back to his friends when the first bomb went off.

"I thought maybe it was a cannon," Green said. Then the second one exploded as he was walking toward it.

"When I saw it, I pulled out the camera and immediately took that picture," Green said.

He then put it back in his pocket and went to help the injured, including a boy and others who were missing limbs.

"It was like battle — a lot of noise, a lot of smoke, people coming at me in a panic," he said.

A short time later, his friend Jason Lubin texted him and asked if he was OK. He replied with the photograph and a note: "It was just in front of me."

Lubin said Thursday night, after the FBI released photos of the two suspects, that he decided to take a closer look at Green's photograph — on the off chance Green had captured anything unusual. He pulled up the photo on his smartphone and zoomed in on the crowd. There in the lower left corner was Dzhokhar Tsarnaev walking around a corner, his backward white baseball cap standing out amid the dozens of panicked people fleeing.

"I literally had to sit down," Lubin said.

Green contacted the FBI, which told him to send them a copy of the photograph.

"He is calmly walking, without panic," Green said of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Leonard also took pictures of the chaotic aftermath, smoke five stories high from the explosions that he said were deafening. He also saw a person who lost a limb before police rushed everyone away from the scene.

"The sense of loss tears your heart apart when you hear the victims' stories," said Leonard, who has lived in Taunton since 1986 and knows what the race means. "It's just so senseless."

___

Associated Press writer Russ Bynum in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., contributed to this report.







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iwanaknow wrote:
Big brother is watching......................be above reproach in all you do.
on April 19,2013 | 10:00AM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
What? Stop talking nonsense and contribute something useful instead. This was a runner who snapped a photo, not a govt (or other) surveillance.
on April 19,2013 | 10:52AM
Skyler wrote:
Thanks for that. These 'big brother' comments are beyond ridiculous.
on April 19,2013 | 11:04AM
environmental_lady wrote:
The article is a bit unclear to me. Can someone explain? How could the same picture be both low resolution and high resolution photo? Was it taken from two different cell phones? I am so confused by this paragraph segment: "When Green's photo of one of the Boston bombing suspects fleeing the scene first surfaced, there was considerable doubt as to its authenticity because of the very low resolution of the image, which made the photo appear to be a composite image. When Green later provided the high-resolution frame directly from his cellphone..." So was the first photo from a different source?
on April 19,2013 | 10:27AM
Skyler wrote:
I don't own an iphone, but guessing when you send a photo via email, it probably gets sent @ a lower resolution so it saves bandwidth and gets sent faster. He had the original file on his phone, which captures it at a ~5m pixel size. Once he pulled the original file off his phone, they were able to see clearly it was indeed the suspect.

(hoping someone will correct this if wrong)
on April 19,2013 | 11:08AM
environmental_lady wrote:
Your explanation sounds plausible. Thanks for answering my question.
on April 19,2013 | 11:20AM
false wrote:
Phone pictures can be sent at different resolutions. The default reso for emailing or texting photos is often much lower than the original picture remaining on the phone.
on April 19,2013 | 11:56AM
KING_CRABBE wrote:
call Clint Eastwood.................dont wait
on April 19,2013 | 10:34AM
pakeheat wrote:
Nah, call Charles Bronson...........he gets it done, LOL.
on April 19,2013 | 12:14PM
Toop_Minaki wrote:
Hmmm...After all the activity over the past few days, someone is now conspicuously absent here.
on April 19,2013 | 12:23PM
juscasting wrote:
YIKES!!!!
on April 19,2013 | 12:47PM
Toop_Minaki wrote:
OH!! That's not even funny man!!! The freak evidently has a habit of using multiple alternate screen names.
on April 19,2013 | 01:30PM
serious wrote:
This whole thing should not have happened. When you put on an event like this you must get a permit from the city. The permit process goes through the various agencies involved, one being the police department. They determine the amount of police involved at time and a half pay since the events are normally done on a weekend or holiday. If you looked at the finish line before the explosions did you notice what the police were doing? They were watching the runners, just like the spectators. Ever notice when the President, or the Pope, are walking where the security people are looking? They look at the people, the crowd, for suspicious activity. There were two knapsacks unattended. If this had happened at a school or at the airport there would have been an evacuation, a lockdown. Police "presence" at a marathon is by far the highest expense, they don't control traffic since barriers are up on the streets. They don't control the crowds since ropes and barriers are also there. So what are they there for??
on April 20,2013 | 06:06AM
steveoctober wrote:
I guess you never attended a marathon or any other large scale road closure for a public event. There are crossings where vehicles go through. Sometimes its regular traffic, and more frequently it involves service vehicles. They ensure no runners get mowed down in the process. There are far more runners who die because of vehicle accidents - a far, far, greater threat than any terrorist bomb going off.
on April 20,2013 | 09:41AM
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