State police members awarded for response to bombs

A Rhode Island state trooper who helped care for the injured in the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings was awarded the highest honor given by the state police during an annual memorial ceremony Thursday to mark national Police Week and to honor fallen officers.

Trooper Roupen Bastajian had just finished the April 15 marathon when two bombs went off in quick succession near the finish line. Without considering that he might himself be in danger, Bastajian ran toward the site of the bombs and helped the injured, said Col. Steven O'Donnell, head of the state police.

"It is without reservation that I can say that Trooper Bastajian's heroic efforts helped save lives that day," O'Donnell said.

Bastajian, 35, of Smithfield, told The Associated Press on the day of the bombings that he saw people lying everywhere and he jumped in to start tying tourniquets around peoples' legs.

He declined to speak to reporters Thursday, but his wife, Roubina, said she was proud of him.

"He's perfect for the job. He loves doing what he does," she said.

Several other troopers received recognition for their work on the bombings, including one who was in a nearby restaurant when the bombs went off and helped tend to the injured, and others who helped in the investigation in neighboring Massachusetts in the days and weeks after.

O'Donnell said among the work state troopers did was to help locate Katherine Russell, the wife of dead bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whose family lives in North Kingstown. He said they responded to Dartmouth, Mass., where Tsarnaev's brother, Dzhokhar, went to school at the University of Massachusetts campus there. They also sent a SWAT team to New Bedford, Mass., when they thought he might be holed up in an apartment there.

Later, O'Donnell said, Rhode Island troopers helped locate a man called Misha, who the Tsarnaev family said is a conservative Muslim convert who steered Tamerlan toward a stricter version of Islam. O'Donnell said the man was interviewed several times over the course of a week. He has not responded to requests for comment from the AP.

In Scituate for the ceremony was Richard DesLauriers, the FBI agent in charge in Boston. He would not comment on the investigation into the bombings.