Flashback Friday: Cameras That ID’d Boston Marathon Bombers Almost Turned Off

In light of recent updates in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial, get another look at the technology that helped the FBI identify the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing of April 2013.

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Editor’s Note: It’s been almost two years after Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested and charged in the massacre that left four people dead and hundreds permanently wounded. He was convicted on 30 counts in connection with the case in federal court on April 8 and faces the possibility of the death penalty. This Flashback Friday, read about the technology that helped identify Tsarnaev and his brother following the bombings.

If Whiskey’s Steakhouse on Boylston Street in Boston hadn’t rescheduled a service call by CCTV Services, Inc. in Farmingdale, N.Y. to look at a camera issue picked up by CCTV’s DVR Health Monitoring program at the popular eatery on April 15, Dzhokar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev may still be at large—or possibly worse.

That’s because the surveillance cameras that canvas the perimeter of the restaurant—as well as the three dozen others inside the establishment—likely would have been turned off when the brothers walked down the street toting the backpacks that held the so-called pressure cooker bombs that killed three people near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon and injured almost 300 others.

For those who haven’t seen the footage, here it is:

“I’m glad someone was able to give the FBI something to identify (the alleged bombers),” says Becky Caloggero, general manager at Whiskey’s. CCTV installed the three dozen cameras, mostly in the front of the restaurant, as well as in the back of the house and on the exterior on Boylston and Gloucester streets about two years ago, she says.

The FBI contacted Whiskey’s staff a couple of days after the bombings, says Caloggero. She downplays her role in the situation, saying, “It’s not really a big part of the story.” Truth be told, the cameras were part of an effort to make sure Whiskey’s wouldn’t face any frivolous lawsuits, says Caloggero.

“Everyone’s become so sue-happy,” she says. “The world is more dangerous and things happen now that didn’t happen in the past. It can pay for itself quite easily.”

Tom Maggio, owner of CCTV, doesn’t remember anything special about that particular job, saying “it went very smoothly” and was a “standard install for us.” Although CCTV, a family-owned DVR manufacturer and full service installation and service company, works in the restaurant and bar space, as well as apartment complexes, churches, funeral homes and several other vertical markets.

The service call scheduled at Whiskey’s was part of CCTV’s DVR health monitoring program, which alerts CCTV and its customers of problems with their systems, says general manager Hope Stepcic.

“We always know if the system is functional,” she says.

When Maggio saw the FBI footage of the Tsarnaev brothers during one of the myriad press conferences following the bombings, he knew right away they were CCTV cameras, largely because of the distinct red lines on both sides of the frame and the unique time and camera number display he saw.