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Boston marathon victim: Suspect looked like "an odd guy"

By Seema Mehta

6:44 PM EDT, April 26, 2013

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A man who lost both legs in the Boston Marathon bombings described on Friday how he locked eyes with one of the bombing suspects minutes before the twin explosions took place near the finish line.

“I was with my girlfriend’s roommates and we were having a great time, you know, we were watching the runners. Everyone’s having a great time. And just that one guy, he didn’t look like he was having a good time,” Jeff Bauman told WEEI-FM (93.7) radio in Boston.

“He was right next to me, you know. At that point, he had a bag and he has his glasses. He had kind of like a leather sweatshirt type of deal, and, you know, it’s warm out. He’s just an odd guy; he struck me as odd. The next thing, you know, I hear fireworks and I’m on  the ground.”

Bauman was rushed from the scene by a good Samaritan and emergency officials; a picture of them rushing him toward an ambulance in a wheelchair was one of the most dramatic pictures taken on April 15.

Once Bauman came out of his first surgery, he provided a description to the FBI of a man wearing a black hat and sunglasses and carrying a backpack. He later described the man to a sketch artist.

Bauman's description is believed to have helped authorities pinpoint video of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder of the two brothers suspected in the marathon bombings and the killing three days later of an MIT police officer. The bombings killed three and injured more than 260; Tsarnaev  was killed in a shootout with police,  and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, was later taken into custody.

“He just didn’t seem right,” Bauman said. “You know you size somebody up? I just looked at him. I was like,  what’s this guy’s problem?…. He was there and then he was gone and then boom.”

Bauman has already moved to a rehabilitation facility, where he is focused on physical and occupational training.  He said that when he learned of the elder Tsarnaev's fate, he thought,  “He’s dead and I’m still here.”

“I’m pissed, obviously, but it’s in the past, you know; you can only look forward,” he said.  “I have a lot to live for before and I have a lot to live for now.”

seema.mehta@latimes.com

Twitter: @latseema