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Gresham runner in Boston Marathon photo used to help identify bombing suspects

It's difficult enough witnessing the aftermath of terrorist bombings at the finish-line of one of world's most prestigious marathons.

Now, nearly two weeks after the Monday, April 15 explosions, Kyle Kersey of Gresham is processing a new development.

A photo taken by a hobby photographer shows the two brothers accused of the bombings in the background.by: COURTESY: BOB LEONARD - Kyle Kersey is on the far right of this picture taken by hobby photographer Bob Leonard of Taunton, Mass., who sent the image to law enforcement in  hopes it would help identify the two men accused of the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon. The suspects are in the crowd between the two women running.

In the foreground is Kersey. He's on the far right of the frame, wearing dark blue shorts and a grey shirt with orange stripes on the shoulders. His sunglasses sit perched on the bill of his cap.

Behind him runs a young woman in a pink headband.

Lurking just over her shoulder are two young men later identified as the bombers – Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, both of Cambridge.

The news that this image exists stuns Kersey.

“These guys are on the sideline as I was running by?” he asked incredulously when told about the picture. “Oh my gosh. That kind of gives me the chills knowing it. That freaks me out.”

Bob Leonard, an electrical engineer from Taunton, Mass., about 40 miles south of Boston, took the picture along with hundreds of photos of runners finishing the race and the crowds of onlookers cheering them forward on that horrible day.

Three days later, grainy surveillance video of the two suspects went public as police asked for help identifying them.

Leonard searched through his photos, using the time stamp on the surveillance images to narrow his search for the two men – one wearing a backwards white baseball cap, the other wearing sunglasses and a dark baseball cap with white trim.

“I thought I might have one or two of them,” Leonard said.

Instead, he found eight shots, which he cropped and enlarged to zoom in on their faces.

Then he uploaded them to the FBI's website, which by the early morning hours of Friday, April 20, had released one of Leonard's photos to media outlets.

This week, Leonard's photos were referenced during the surviving suspect's arraignment as evidence that the two brothers were at the scene. The older brother died following a police shootout on Thursday, April 19, after the brothers allegedly shot and killed a police officer in his car at MIT. After the ensuing manhunt that put the entire city of Watertown on lockdown all day Friday, April 20, police arrested the younger brother hiding in a boat in storage for the winter in a backyard.

“It gives closure,” Leonard said of his photos. “These were indeed the guys who were there. They were there.”

For Leonard, it's not creepy or eerie to think he was standing just across the street from the two alleged killers.

The thought that gets to him is of the victims. “Those who are no longer with us and those who will have both physical and mental memories for the rest of their lives,” Leonard said. “... It's just a true shame. I'm just happy to help with all the senseless loss.”

A total of three spectators died in the blasts including an 8-year-old boy, a 29-year-old woman and a 23-year-old graduate student from China studying at Boston University.

Estimates of those injured has sharply risen from 170 to 282, as victims who delayed treatment seek medical attention for injuries that have failed to heal on their own, according to the Boston Public Health Commission. Thirty-one remain hospitalized, many with lost limbs, as of Wednesday, April 24.

For Kersey – who shared his experience of being in the marathon's finishing area when the bombs detonated in the Tuesday, April 23, issue of The Outlook – finding out he's in such an iconic photo is another aspect of being at the Boston Marathon that he's coming to terms with.

“I'm still processing this,” said Kersey of the anger, grief and gratefulness he feels to have survived physically unscathed. “And this is another thing to process.”

Donations for survivors and victims can be made to The One Fund Boston, Inc., which will help those most affected by the bombings. The fund accepts online credit card donations of at least $10 at www.onefundboston.org, and many organizations have pledged to match some totals.




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