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After deadly marathon bombing, officials begin piecing together evidence

Military officials guard the Boylston Street at the Massachusetts Avenue intersection Tuesday afternoon while the investigation into the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon continues. PHOTO BY SARAH FISHER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Military officials guard the Boylston Street at the Massachusetts Avenue intersection Tuesday afternoon while the investigation into the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon continues. PHOTO BY SARAH FISHER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

A day after deadly explosions rocked the finish line of the Boston Marathon, city, state and federal officials are focused on piecing together the events of the attack, which they say will assist in finding the individual or party responsible for the blasts.

“This will be a worldwide investigation,” said Richard DesLauriers, the agent in charge of the Boston FBI headquarters. “We will go to the ends of the earth to find the subject or subjects responsible for this despicable crime.”

Two explosions occurred Monday afternoon near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, resulting in three deaths and 176 injuries. One of the casualties was an 8-year-old boy, Martin Richard, and another has been identified as Krystle Campbell, 29. The third person killed was a Boston University graduate student, but BU has not released the victim’s name. Seven Emerson College students were also injured in the blast, according to the Emerson website.

Doctors at Mass. General Hospital said many of the injuries sustained from the explosion were burn injury, shrapnel wounds and ruptured eardrums. A number of  patients were given amputations for their wounds, all of which were performed on the lower body, said Dr. George Velmahos, trauma chief at Mass. General, in a press conference Tuesday.

A full timeline of the attacks has yet to be realized, said BPD Commissioner Ed Davis, but some questions have been answered. Davis said there is no evidence the explosions originated in trashcans, as some reported Monday. Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick said only two explosive devices were found yesterday, contradicting early reports.

The FBI announced that fragments of the bomb had been recovered and sent to Quantico, Va. for analysis.

“Among items partially recovered are pieces of black nylon, which could be from a backpack, and what appear to be fragments of BBs and nails, possibly contained in a pressure cooker device,” DesLauriers said.

Security coverage of the marathon has been criticized since the blasts, but Davis defended the security presence for an open, public event like the Boston Marathon.

“By the virtue of the type of event this is, it requires that we don’t turn these events in a police state,” he said. “We struck what we thought to be an appropriate balance.”

Davis said two Explosive Ordinance Disposal sweeps on Monday were carried out before the blast and discovered nothing.

“Those two EOD sweeps did not turn up any evidence,” he said. “But becasuse there is unrestricted access to the race course — simply because it is 26.2 miles long — people can come and go and bring items in and out.”

Davis said no individual or party has publicly taken credit for the attack and that no arrests have been made regarding the explosions.

On Monday, Davis would not comment on whether the explosions were an act of terrorism, but on Tuesday multiple officials recognized it as such.

“This was a heinous and cowardly act,” U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement Tuesday morning. “And given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism.” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino also invoked the word ‘terrorist’ in a press conference on Tuesday.

Over 30 agencies responded to the explosions Monday, and the FBI has taken over the investigation, but is coordinating closely with Boston and State police as well as the U.S. Department of Justice Joint Task Force and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

“We are in the process of securing and processing the most complex crime scene we have dealt with in the history of our department,” Davis said in a press conference Tuesday. Davis said the 15-block crime scene radius has been reduced to 12 blocks, but said it could take up to two days until the entire crime scene has been processed.

Commissioner Davis and other officials called upon the public to submit photos and videos taken near the blast sites, stressing the importance this evidence had in tracking down suspects. The FBI had received more than 2,000 tips related to the marathon bombing by noon Tuesday, DesLauriers said.

“I would encourage you to bring forward anything. You might not think it’s significant, but it might have some value to this investigation,” said Colonel Timothy Alben, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police.

Alben said Bostonians would see an escalated presence of security officials around the Boston area for the next several days.

“You are going to see an enhanced presence from Boston police, State police, the National Guard and from our law enforcement partners throughout the metropolitan boston area over the next days and probably longer,” Alben said at a press conference Monday. “That’s not for any particular reason other than to provide some comfort to the public.”

In a statement from the Boston Athletic Association — which organized the marathon — a tone of sadness was placed on an event that was supposed to hail physical and mental achievement.

“Today is a sad day for the city of Boston, for the running community, and for all those who were here to enjoy the 117th running of the Boston Marathon,” read the release from Monday evening. “What was intended to be a day of joy and celebration quickly became a day in which running a marathon was of little importance.”

Tuesday morning, Boston Marathon runners gathered near the blast site to pick up their medals and belongings they left at the race.

Dan Kirsch, 70, said he was stopped a half mile before the end of the marathon on Commonwealth Avenue.

“I was moving along towards the finish line and then, all of a sudden, everything jammed up,” Kirsch said. “First I just thought it was a jam like the kinds you get at the water stops, but then it was clear that it wasn’t because everybody was stopped. We didn’t know what was happening.”

After more than an hour, Kirsch said he was reunited with his wife and daughter, who had been watching the race on the balcony of the Boston Public Library and had seen the explosions.

Kirsch said the group of runners around him was helpful in helping him contact his family since he had not run with his cellphone.

“People were extraordinarily kind about sharing cell phones and getting information through,” he said. “It was starting to get chilly, people were lending runners jackets so they could stay warm.”

Megan Cole, 25, also said she was stopped from finishing the race at mile 21. She said it felt good that the BAA handed out medals to those that didn’t finish the marathon.

“It’s great they are honoring the fact that we were going to make it to the finish and we were stopped because of this reason,” Cole, who lives in Gloucester, said.

Both Cole and Kirsch said they were determined to run in next year’s Boston Marathon.

“Marathons take a pretty hard toll out of my body,” Kirsch said. “But I would be tempted to run this one again just to show that they can’t stop us. I saw the World Trade Towers go down. New York is back. Boston will be back. We will be back.”

Hundreds gathered at the Boston Common Tuesday evening to remember those lost and injured in the marathon attacks. There was also a vigil at Boston University Tuesday, and some Boston College students are planning a walk of the last five miles of the marathon in solidarity with runners.

Louis Cohn, 58, said she attended the city vigil to honor those lost in the explosions.

“That we can be here [at the Common] and be safe is just a testament to that there are more good people on the earth than bad,” she said. “We cannot listen to them, and we cannot let fear win.”

Sara Ewing, 35, a medical student at Tufts, said she had friends in the marathon that couldn’t complete it because of the explosions.

“I wanted to come and show that Boston, and the city’s spirit, is not broken by this,” she said.


Kyle Plantz and Steven Dufour contributed reporting to this article.

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  1. Great work Freepers on a very sad day for Boston

  2. Travis, DFP City Desk '89-'90

    Nice work. I came looking for an angle not shared by the Globe, AP, and the major networks, and found it here.

  3. Great coverage, guys. You all have a lot to be proud of.

  4. amazing to hear how many BU student journalists were covering the marathon and were on the scene when this tragedy happened…and still returned to report the story. my heart goes out to you today, BU. take care of each other.

  5. Great work Freepers. This will be one of the most important stories you will cover in your college career. Thinking of you and hoping your friends are safe.

  6. Erin Nedell Giunta, DFP Photog'93-97

    Great work Freepers. This will be one of the most important stories you will cover in your college career. Thinking of you and hoping your friends are safe.

  7. I don’t know if you guys have seen these yet but I just saw them on tumblr.

  8. Pingback: Boston Marathon bombings: How student newspapers localized the news | News by Design

  9. Your newspaper staff is doing an incredible job covering this story. As the retired adviser of Ohio State’s student newspaper, I want you to know you are doing amazing work. Keep up the energy; I will be following the story on your website.
    Please don’t forget the winners of the marathon; be sure they are not completely overshadowed by the bombings.

  10. I’m really proud of you guys for the amazing non-stop coverage of these events. Keep up the good work.

  11. If I were grading your coverage = A+. Great job.

  12. wesley dorries

    I DID NOT WRITE THE FIRST COMMENT!!! Someone is a liar!