Two bomb blasts, 12 seconds apart, rocked the finish line of the 117th running of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing at least three people, including an 8-year-old Dorchester boy, wounding more than 130, and leaving the sidewalks of Boylston Street covered in blood.
Medical professionals on hand to care for blisters and sore knees in Copley Square suddenly found themselves treating life-threatening lacerations and lost limbs, as a high holiday in Boston — Patriots Day — turned to an epic tragedy. Emergency workers rushed to the scene, despite the very real possibility of more blasts.
The explosions blew out windows, sent plumes of smoke into the sky, and left victims piled on each other in a scene far more reminiscent of a battlefield than a celebrated day in Boston’s Back Bay. The blasts occurred at 2:50 p.m., several hours after the elite runners had finished the race.
About 30 people were transferred to hospitals under a Code Red, meaning life threatening injuries, which may point to a rising death toll, according to a law enforcement official.
Flags were lowered to half-staff in Washington, D.C., and around the nation, as the country mourned with Boston.
“We will find out who did this; we’ll find out why they did this,” pledged President Obama, in remarks from the White House. “Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”
A massive investigation was underway Monday night under the direction of the FBI, as much of the Back Bay was locked down to protect the sprawling crime scene. Officials last night called the investigation “very active and fluid.” Authorities were talking to at least one person at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, according to sources familiar with the questioning. Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said no one was in custody.
“Any event with multiple explosive devices, as this appears to be, is clearly an act of terror, and will be approached as an act of terror,” a White House official said. “We don’t yet know who carried out this attack, and a thorough investigation will have to determine whether it was planned and carried out by a terrorist group, foreign or domestic.”
The person questioned in the hospital was a Saudi national, who was reportedly tackled and held by a bystander after he was seen running from near the scene of the explosion, said a law enforcement source who spoke with someone involved in the FBI’s investigation. The Saudi man, believed to be a university student in Boston, is cooperating with the FBI and told agents that he was not involved in the explosions, and that he ran only because he was frightened. Investigators did not characterize the man as a suspect. No one had been arrested or charged as of late Monday night.
Hospital officials late last night said tests showed no radiation or biological agents on the victims, and although many people were wounded by flying shrapnel, it did not appear the bombs had been packed with nails or other fragments to increase the injuries.
Twitter and the Internet overflowed with rumors in the aftermath of the blast, some of which were later debunked. Law enforcement and city officials disputed published reports that investigators had discovered one or more bombs that had failed to explode.
Law enforcement officials also late Monday descended on an apartment building on Revere Beach Parkway, and conducted a search related to the investigation, according to an official with knowledge of the search.
A city touched 11 years ago by terrorism, when 9/11 hijackers took off from Logan Airport, was touched again, in a plot to inflict untold casualties at the city’s annual Marathon celebration, the one day each spring when the attention of the sporting world is on Boston.
The grief resonated sharply in Dorchester, where locals gathered Monday night at Tavolo Restaurant in memory of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the attack, and his mother and sister, who suffered grievous injuries. Martin’s father, Bill, is a community leader in the Ashmont section of Dorchester. A third child was reportedly uninjured.
“They are beloved by this community. They contribute in many ways. That’s why you see this outpouring,” said City Councilor at Large Ayanna Pressley, who was among the mourners. “It’s surreal, it’s tragic, it’s incomprehensible. Everyone here tonight is trying to comfort one another and be prayerful.”
The attack truncated the world’s most prestigious road race, which draws runners from across the globe, and will forever mar what is annually the most uplifting day of the year in Boston: Marathon Monday.Continued...