UPDATE: Police have identified the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings as two brothers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who is currently on the run, and Tamerlan Tzarnaev, 26, who was killed Friday morning during a shootout with police, according to NBC News.
Law enforcement officials investigating the fatal twin explosions at the Boston Marathon on Monday are reportedly circulating a photo that was shared by users on the Internet message board 4Chan.
According to the Post, the photograph, which shows two male spectators at the Boston Marathon -- one of whom is wearing a blue jacket and the other wearing a black jacket and a white baseball cap – was sent around in an e-mail saying that “The attached photos are being circulated in an attempt to identify the individuals highlighted therein.”
Although CNN mistakenly reported that the bombing suspect had been arrested and taken into custody on Wednesday, the Post’s report that federal investigators are trying to identify the two men in the photographs may have been sparked by 4Chan’s crowdsourced investigation. The photo in question of the two men was isolated from several others on the image bulletin board where users joined in the invesitgation to pinpoint possible suspects.
However, the Boston Globe reported authorities are planning to officially release images of the suspects grabbed from surveillance footage at a nearby store on Thursday near the explosion sites to the public to help the invesitgation process.
On Wednesday, 4Chan claimed to have made substantial progress in identifying the perpetrator behind the bombing, which left three people including an 8-year-old boy dead and reportedly injured over 100 more. The crowdsourced effort sprang up after the FBI issued a plea to the public to come forward with more information. Richard DesLauriers, the FBI’s lead investigator, urged people to share any details that might be relevant to the case, saying, “We are asking anyone who may have heard someone speak about the marathon, or the date of April 15, in any way that indicated that he or she may have targeted this event to call us.”
In response, 4Chan users compiled a list of photographs of possible suspects who were seen wearing backpacks using photos of the marathon that were released to Reuters on Tuesday by an unidentified U.S. government official.
Law enforcement officials have said the explosive devices used in the attack were made using shrapnel, metal ball bearings, and possibly a pressure cooker, according to the Chicago Tribune, and were hidden in backpacks. 4Chan users consequently zeroed in on images of men carrying black backpacks, like one that was discovered after the twin explosions, and juxtaposed them to show the suspects’ possible movement throughout the race. Reddit users also created its own subreddit, r/findbostonbombers, devoted to identifying the suspect.
According to Slate, Reddit has helped crack previous cases by crowdsourcing information; one now famous Redditor solved a hit-and-run casein 2012 by identifying the make and model of a car based only on an image of one of its headlights.