By Spenser Hickey
Assistant Copy Editor
Glass and blood stained the sidewalks, buildings shook and runners were knocked to the ground during the two explosions that killed at least three people during the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15.
So far no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The bombings occurred almost simultaneously at 2:50 p.m. and took place “50 to 100 yards apart” along the route to the finish line on Boylston Street, according to a press statement by Boston police commissioner Ed Davis.
“Each scene resulted in multiple casualties,” he said.
As of the time of publication, no suspects were in police custody and it is not publicly known whether the bombing was the work of domestic or foreign terrorists.
News of the bombing quickly spread among the OWU community, particularly over Facebook. Many students posted messages of love, support and prayer for those in Boston. Several students who posted are from the Boston area.
Sophomore Matthew Hunter, who lives near Boston, said in an email, that hearing of the bombing left him in “absolute disbelief.”
“It was terrifying because I have friends who were working the finish line,” he said. His friends’ shifts ended “about 30” minutes before the bombs detonated nearby.
Hunter said every year he was in high school, he watched the end of the marathon from the Prudential Center, near the finish line.
“It’s a strange situation,” he said. “I never considered that something like this could happen during the marathon. It’s such an iconic event and back home everyone stops what they are doing to watch. In hindsight I can see why it was a target.”
Junior Rachel Vinciguerra, who lives 15 minutes from Boston, said in an email she didn’t hear about the attacks until 6 p.m.
“I was shocked when I heard what had happened,” she said.
“Bostonians love their city and this attack couldn’t have come at a much more vulnerable time. For such a tragedy to take place on a day that should be filled with so much joy is crushing. I hope that the people responsible will be identified—mostly for the future safety of the city. In order for us to protect against another incident like that, I think it’s important to understand what happened.”
Vinciguerra said her mother had run in the marathon before, and one of her high school friends and one mother’s coworkers ran this year. Her mother was with her sister on a visit to Syracuse University and their friends were unharmed, but she said it was “certainly a scary moment.”
She said seeing the replays of the explosion were “really difficult.”
“I know those buildings,” she said. “I’ve walked down those streets before with my family and by myself. It’s really hard for me to even fathom that this has happened in a city that has always felt so safe to me.”
Despite the bombing, she said the first responders’ promptness reminded her how safe the city is.
“They were incredible and I am so proud that they serve where they do,” she said. “As for America, I don’t really have an idea one way or the other of whether this was a domestic attack or an international attack, but I feel like you can’t let these things get to you… I might be a little more alert than usual, but I refuse to be scared…because an attack like this is meant to shake people up and I don’t want to give in to that….I’m just glad to know that my loved ones are safe and am keeping all of those affected in my prayers. If Boston is anything, it is stubborn and resilient. We’ll bounce back.”
On Monday night, the popular Facebook page OWU Compliments posted a message “To other Bostonians at OWU” saying they hoped “all your friends & family are OK and were far away from Boylston when the bombs went off.”
“You are wonderful and resilient people,” said the post, signed by “a broken heart 12 hours from Heartbreak Hill.”
Amid the shock and devastation in Boston, stories of heroism began to emerge.
CNN reported some marathon runners turned and ran back into the blast zone alongside first responders to help their comrades. NBC Sports’ Twitter feed said other runners continued the marathon all the way to Massachusetts General Hospital, where they then donated blood to help victims.
Following news of the bombings, reports said there had been another explosion at Boston’s JFK Library; later reports said it was a fire.
“We’re recommending to people that they stay home, if they’re in hotels in the area that they return to their rooms, and that they don’t go any place and congregate in large crowds,” Davis said.
“We want to make sure we completely stabilize the situation.”
Davis said two hotlines have been set up: one at (617) 635-4500 to help families find loved ones who were at the scene, and another at (1-800) 494-8477 for witnesses to contact law enforcement about what they may have seen.
“We don’t have the whole picture yet, but we have gotten a good deal of information,” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said during the press conference.
Davis said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the Massachusetts National Guard, as well as “assets from other agencies,” were assisting the police.
Patrick said he received a phone call from President Obama around 4:15 p.m., assuring him the FBI would fully cooperate with the investigation.
Shortly after 6 p.m., Obama addressed the nation, giving a statement to the press from the White House.
He praised the response of Boston police and firefighters, saying “it’s a reminder that so many Americans serve and sacrifice on our behalf every day.”
“I’ve directed the full resources of the federal government to state and local authorities to help protect our people, increase security around the United States as necessary and investigate what happened,” Obama said.
He urged Americans not to jump to conclusions, but vowed to bring those responsible to justice.
“We still do not know who did this or why,” he said.
“But make no mistake—we will get to the bottom of this, and we will find out who did this. We’ll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice.”
At a later press conference after 9 p.m. Monday, Davis said he offered his sympathies to the victims.
“Those responsible will be brought to justice,” he said.
In a later statement Tuesday morning, Obama announced the FBI was treating the bombing as an “act of terrorism.”
“This was a heinous and cowardly act… (a)ny time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror,” he said.
“The American people refuse to be terrorized, because what the world saw yesterday – the aftermath of the explosions – were stories of heroism and kindness and generosity and love… So if you want to know who we are, what America is, how we respond to evil, that’s it – selflessly, compassionately, unafraid.”