The FBI has released pictures of suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. But before that, plenty of people were getting pegged with the "suspect" tag from non-official sources. One of them was a 17-year-old college student who was horrifed to see his face passed around online as a potential bomber. He reportedly went to the police to beg them to clear his name.
Salan Barhoun, who was photographed sitting near the finish line in a blue jacket, had been pointed out by Internet sleuths as looking "suspicious" -- primarily because he seemed to be looking in the opposite direction that everyone else was looking. Hardly proof of anything, but everyone is eager to the person who might solve this horrific crime.
The New York Post then ran a picture of the teen and a friend on the cover of its paper, circled them in red, and headlined it "Bag Men." Only inside did it say it was unclear if they were suspects. Uh, how about not running their pictures on your cover then? The Post claims it got the men's pictures from an internal police investigation email, but authorities have never said if they were suspects, and in fact, they were cleared.
ABC News tracked Barhoun down through social media and he said that the experience had been horrific. He told the outlet:
It's the worst feeling that I can possibly feel ... I'm only 17.
Barhoun's brother said that the whole thing had made his mother "sick and upset." He told ABC:
It made her think he had done something wrong. My brother is not the bomber.
Can you imagine how this boy must have felt? Or how his mom and entire family must have felt? What if some vigilante had decided to take care of him?
It's one thing for Internet sleuths to play "let's find the suspect" but it's another thing for major media to act like someone might be a suspect with no proof whatsoever. Glad this kid went to the police and got it all cleared up.
Now let's hope the images of the two young men that the FBI just released are the real deal.
Do you think pictures of "suspects" should be run in the media before the police okay it?
Image via hahaTango/Flickr