Real-Life ‘Scorpion’ Helped ID Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects

By Kathryn Hauser, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – He’s the real-life “Scorpion,” the man the new CBS television drama is based on. His genius and his technology helped pinpoint the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

In the television program Scorpion, a computer prodigy recruits a band of misfit geniuses to solve global crises. The main character is Walter O’Brien. And the life and work of the real Walter O’Brien is used in the show for high drama. “We’ve saved lives, caught terrorists and stopped wars,” says the real O’Brien.

Born in Ireland, O’Brien was bullied as a kid. At age nine he says he took an IQ test and scored 197. That’s higher than Einstein. He named his company Scorpion, after his hacker name. “The company now is the largest think tank of high IQ individuals that exists,” he says.

Security is what they do. O’Brien says he used video forensics to sort through hundreds of hours of footage from Boylston Street in the aftermath of the Marathon bombings. He says that helped the FBI focus on the Tsarnaev brothers. “Image recognition systems which would be what they used for the Boston bombers to detect suspicious behavior or when someone behaves differently than everyone else,” he says.

Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev on Boylston Street during the 2013 Boston Marathon.  (Photo courtesy: Bob Leonard)

Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev on Boylston Street during the 2013 Boston Marathon. (Photo courtesy: Bob Leonard)

O’Brien says his team helped prevent a biological attack in Afghanistan and figured out if a North Korean missile could reach North America. Now, ISIS is part of his equation. “It’s hard to get into specifics, but we do a lot of satellite surveillance and image recognition on satellites,” he says.

Now, he’s a fictionalized hero, but with a serious purpose. “To influence young kids to study computers more, to have more geniuses come out of the closet and join us in our mission to do good,” he says. “I grew up as many folks my age did, watching McGyver and the A-Team and Knight Rider and those kinds of shows, and it’s generally a bunch of oddballs trying to save the world, and that’s what I ended up doing,” says O’Brien.

You can watch “Scorpion” every Monday here on WBZ-TV.

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