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April 19, 2013

Boston bombing victim in iconic photo helped identify suspects

BOSTON — Minutes before the bombs blew up in Boston, Jeff Bauman looked into the eyes of the man who tried to kill him.

Just before 3 p.m. Monday, Bauman was waiting among the crowd for his girlfriend to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon. A man wearing a cap, sunglasses and a black jacket over a hooded sweatshirt looked at Jeff, 27, and dropped a bag at his feet, his brother, Chris Bauman, said in an interview.

Two and a half minutes later, the bag exploded, tearing Jeff's legs apart. A picture of him in a wheelchair, bloodied and ashen, was broadcast around the world as he was rushed to Boston Medical Center. He lost both legs below the knee.

"He woke up under so much drugs, asked for a paper and pen and wrote, 'bag, saw the guy, looked right at me,' " Chris Bauman said Thursday in an interview.

Those words may have helped crack the mystery of who perpetrated one of the highest-profile acts of terror in the United States since the 2001 assault on New York City and the Washington area, one that killed three people and wounded scores.

The Boston area remains on lockdown after law enforcement officials killed one suspect in the bombing and were hunting another, following a night of violent clashes between the two men and authorities that killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus policy officer.

The suspect still at large is said to be Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, a foreign national believed to have been in the country for more than a year, according to a federal law enforcement official.

The individual identified as the second suspect was his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, according to the official. He was killed this morning by law enforcement.

Jeff Bauman's face-to-face confrontation with one of them may have yielded key clues in the manhunt, which intensified Thursday after the Federal Bureau of Investigation released video images of two men.

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