“We got two explosions,” Linskey said. “I don’t know if they’re electrical.”
Linskey, a fit officer with a shaved head, had been walking the Marathon route when the bombs exploded. As he headed back toward Kenmore Square, striding down busy Beacon Street from Audubon Circle, he heard another officer, detective sergeant Danny Keeler, screaming for help on his police radio.
Linskey could barely understand what Keeler was saying about two explosions at the finish line. But he heard the urgency in his voice and broke into a run on Beacon Street. In Kenmore Square, he leaped into another officer’s car and they barreled toward the crime scene, siren screaming, going the wrong way down the one-way street.
From the car, Linskey called his boss, who immediately figured out what was happening. As soon as Davis heard the word “amputations,” he said, he began to treat the episode as terrorism.
“A power station explosion wouldn’t cause that type of injury. That’s classic low-placement IED explosion,” Davis said.
Within five minutes, Davis said, as he tore down Turtle Pond Parkway back toward the heart of the city, he called Richard DesLauriers, agent in charge of the Boston office of the FBI.
“Rick, look, I don’t know what I’ve got,” Davis recalls telling the FBI chief, “but I have multiple explosions . . . I need to roll whatever SWAT teams you have available to Copley Square.”
“I’ll see you there,” DesLauriers told him. “I’ll get everything I can to you as quickly as I can.” It was the beginning of days of intense cooperation between local and federal agencies that sometimes turned fractious, but ended with state and city officials praising the FBI’s handling of the case.
Arriving at the scene and leaping from his vehicle, Linskey smelled gunpowder in the air. And he, too, knew then what they were dealing with: bombs.
The street was bloody chaos, a battleground. Bodies and body parts were strewn on the pavement, and victims covered with towels. We ran out of ambulances, Linskey remembers someone telling him. The street was littered with shrapnel, nails and ball bearings, and belongings dropped by fleeing spectators: cellphones and backpacks; duffel bags and handmade signs with runners’ names.
Arriving on Boylston, Davis was struck by the contrast, the dramatic transformation: “No one but uniforms at this place where I had just been with 100,000 people.”
He walked down the street to examine the blast sites. It was then, Davis says, that a driving sense of urgency kicked in, a feeling of danger and momentousness that added an intensity to every step that followed.
“I really believed . . . we had a terrorist on the run that we needed to capture as soon as possible,” said Davis
Fearing a third bomb, he moved quickly to lock down the area, pushing people and police back away from the bomb sites while specialized teams swept the sea of debris. It was not the only incorrect assumption of the day: For a time, Davis and others erroneously suggested a mysterious fire at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum that broke out about the same time as the bombings was terror-related.
State and city police and emergency management leaders conferred and settled on the Westin Copley Place hotel for their command post; the Fairmont Copley Plaza had a function already set up in its ballroom. By 4 p.m., a dozen people gathered there around a single table including Davis, Colonel Tim Alben of the State Police, the FBI’s DesLauriers, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, and District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. An hour later, the crowd had swelled to 100. And the officers kept coming: city, state, transit police; FBI; ATF. Ultimately, more than 20 law enforcement agencies would take part in the manhunt with more than 1,000 investigators working out of the third and fourth floors of the Westin alone.
They had to act quickly. Officials had initially activated the alternate Marathon route, but then ended the race to stem the flow of more than 5,000 remaining runners toward the bloody finish line. Still wary of further attacks, they began dispatching police to other sites around the city — Faneuil Hall, hospitals, train stations. As fear and confusion swept Boston, they knew they would field calls about suspicious people, packages, and bags.
Within minutes of establishing the command post at the Westin, Davis said, he issued the first order to collect video. Investigators, led by Boston Police Sergeant Detective Bill Perkins, began going after surveillance cameras from surrounding businesses. Senior officials began to gather.Continued...