Reporting Beth Germano
REVERE (CBS) – It was a front page that jolted a 17-year-old from Revere, with the headline “Bag Men.” There was Salah Barhoum with a friend standing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
The picture was not only on the front page of the New York Post, there was a picture on the inside pages with his face circled in the crowd. But it was also posted on websites whose users have been scouring the marathon finish line photos for suspects, especially ones with backpacks that could have carried a bomb.
Barhoum’s father says the teenager, a track star at Revere High School, is now afraid to leave his home worried some will blame him for the bombings, no matter what. “When people outside see him, they say ‘look, he’s a criminal’. He can’t go outside,” his father El Houssein Barhoum tells WBZ-TV.
The Post suggested the photo was being circulated among law enforcement. The fear from the family was enough to bring Revere police to their apartment building. A visiting friend said Salah now worries about his reputation. “You don’t like to be blamed for something you didn’t do,” said Yassine who didn’t want to give his last name.
Before his identity was apparent to media outlets, teammates said Salah was at Revere High School for track and field practice, and sensitive about the photo making the rounds. “Some were joking today and he went to the coach and said he feels bad, almost crying. We shouldn’t be joking about it,” said sophomore John Simonini.
On Wednesday Salah went to Revere Police to clear his name, and even the Post reported today he’s been cleared. But the family believes the damage has been done and won’t be comfortable until an arrest has been made.