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Amateur Videos, Photos Crucial In Boston Bombing Investigation

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Videos and photographs have been playing a major role in finding the bomber who struck the Boston Marathon.

"You never know which frame is going to reveal the critical information," said forensic expert Larry Kobilinsky.

As CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported, Kobilinsky said it is impossible to overstate the importance of still and video imagery to the bombing investigation – particularly in an age where everyone has a camera-equipped smartphone.

"It could be a photo that some passerby took that could be key to breaking the case," Kobilinsky said.

Video and still pictures have been pouring in, according to authorities.

"We have had a tremendous outpouring of support from the public in terms of video that has been submitted to us," said FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers.

Still pictures have also come in, and experts have spent long hours sifting through the images for clues. They are looking for anything suspicious in huge crowds along the marathon route.

"Unfortunately this requires human beings, and I say unfortunately because human beings can be slow and there of course is human error, but I think that human beings are going to be going through thousands of frames of video and hundreds if not thousands of images looking for some individual who looks suspicious carrying packages or a package, at least, and is near the site of the explosions," Kobilinsky said.

In the Internet age, amateur detectives have been flocking to sites including Reddit, crowdsourcing the investigation by comparing notes about people who may be pictured acting suspiciously.

One young man seen with a backpack has been mentioned prominently, with many wondering if he had a pressure cooker bomb inside that bag.

Kobilinsky said the FBI has been monitoring the amateur sleuths online.

"This is exactly what the FBI needs, any leads that will help the FBI follow the right direction will be very, very useful," he said.

There are reported to be 600 surveillance cameras in the area near the bomb blasts.

Dozens of experts as of Wednesday were going through it all, using computer programs that can zip through and focus on certain characteristics such as height and clothing color.

Between the bomb fragments and the imagery, investigators have a lot to analyze.

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