One of them was Conley, the Suffolk DA, who had earlier been watching the race at Abe and Louie’s restaurant. He almost became physically ill when he realized how close he and his wife had been to the bombers — less than 50 feet.
“I had to pull myself together,” said Conley. “I could have rubbed elbows with the guy. Did I pass him? If my friend hadn’t said, ‘Are you ready to leave’ . . . I felt fortunate, and at the same time I felt sick for the loss of life.”
Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who just days before had undergone surgery for a broken leg, checked himself out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where many victims were taken, and made his way downtown to the command post, too. The mayor had already missed one of his favorite springtime duties — crowning one of the marathon winners — but he wasn’t going to stay sidelined during an attack on the city he has led for 20 years.
“The doctors said, ‘You shouldn’t be going,’ ” Menino recalled. “I said, ‘I don’t care what you say, doc. I’m going.”
Police first briefed the media soon after 5 p.m. An hour later, shortly after 6, President Obama addressed the nation, promising the “full resources” of the federal government.
“Today is a holiday in Massachusetts; Patriots Day,” he said. “It’s a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great American city of Boston has reflected from the earliest days of our nation, and it’s a day that draws the world to Boston’s streets in a spirit of friendly competition. Boston is a tough and resilient town, and so are its people . . . The American people will say a prayer for Boston tonight.”
While Americans prayed, law enforcement analysts at FBI headquarters in Boston’s Center Plaza got to work reviewing the torrent of videotapes of Boylston Street that were streaming in from businesses and ordinary spectators alike. Eventually, more than 100 analysts were painstakingly reviewing thousands of hours of surveillance and amateur videotape for anything suspicious — anyone resembling a bomber about to strike.
By 8 or 9 p.m. Monday, federal agents were taking the reins of the investigation. It was a seamless, logical transition, said Patrick, and “there wasn’t any fussing about it.”
“One of the first things we did Monday night was get all these agency heads in a room and say, OK, who’s in charge,” said Patrick. “We need[ed] one agency in charge … The logical lead was the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.”
The governor reflected later on his first reaction, when his daughter called him in his car to ask about the bombings. Instinctively, Patrick had offered reassurance, telling her, “I’m sure it’s OK.”
“Because you want to believe it, right?” he said. “That it’s OK.”
But Patrick knew now that things were far from OK.
As the night wore on, and investigators descended on hospitals to question witnesses, more and more average Bostonians joined the expanding quest for the bombers.
Investigators frantically searched for video. Kiva Kuan Liu, a Boston University graduate student, had been filming footage for a documentary near where the first bomb exploded. She was summoned to Tufts Medical Center around 10 p.m. to be interviewed. In a sterile hospital meeting room, Liu said, four investigators grilled her. When her memory failed her, they persisted.
“They were very picky about details,” said Liu, 23, who was not injured in the blast. Liu volunteered her Panasonic video camera, which she had borrowed from BU, but insisted they give her a phone number so she could get it back later.
Meanwhile, the alleged bombers had quietly disappeared into the city. As surgeons tried to save scores of people, one or perhaps both of the brothers went shopping.
A grocery receipt recovered by police suggests that, shortly after the Marathon bombings, at least one of the brothers apparently bought groceries at a Whole Foods store in Cambridge, about a half-mile from their family home on Norfolk Street. A person with knowledge of the investigation said the FBI seized video surveillance equipment from the store on Prospect Street after finding a receipt in one of the brother’s pockets after Tamerlan was killed and Dzhokhar arrested.
Little is known about Tamerlan’s movements after the bombing, though neighbors said he spent a lot of time inside his apartment taking care of his 3-year-old daughter while his wife worked. But Dzhokhar, the suspect with the white hat on backward, was an open book.
A seemingly normal college kid in many ways — the 19-year-old UMass Dartmouth sophomore played soccer and liked to smoke pot, said his friends — Dzhokhar was also an active Twitter user, the popular online social media site.Continued...