Tragedy in Boston

A bombing shakes Boston and the nation

Apr 16, 2013 | By Nellie Gonzalez Cutler with TIME and AP reporting

Boston Marathon runners head towards the finish line as an explosion erupts along the final stretch of the route.

More than 17,000 runners had already crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon, in Massachusetts, when the first bomb exploded at 2:50. Seconds later, another explosion rocked the crowd of spectators and runners. At least 176 people were injured, and three were killed. After the attack, President Barack Obama spoke at the White House. “We will find out who did this. We’ll find out why they did this,” he said. “Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”

The bombing shattered a day of celebration. The marathon is held on Patriot’s Day, a Massachusetts state holiday that marks the start of the Revolutionary War and the battles of Lexington and Concord, in 1775. The 26.2-mile race is the oldest continually run marathon in the world. This year, it drew more than 26,000 runners from more than 60 countries.

Emergency medical workers and volunteers rush to help victims.
Emergency medical workers and volunteers rush to help victims.

A Heroic Response

Within minutes of the explosion, onlookers, volunteers and emergency workers rushed to help those injured. Officials said their quick actions saved many lives. The President echoed those statements at a briefing on Tuesday. He said first responders and volunteers showed no fear and acted “ heroically.”

After the attack, ambulances, fire trucks and dozens of marked and unmarked police cars filled Boston’s streets. In Boston Common, the city’s main public park, squadrons of military personnel lined up, as helicopters swarmed overhead.

The Investigation Begins

The hunt for the killer behind the bombings began soon after the attacks. Investigators sealed off the bombsite and began collecting evidence. In Washington, the FBI and CIA began looking through databases for missed clues that the attacks would occur. Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said authorities had received “no specific intelligence that anything was going to happen” at the race.

As of Tuesday morning, no person or group had claimed responsibility for the attacks. Officials are asking the public to help with the investigation by sending photos and videos, and calling in clues. The chief FBI agent in Boston promised that authorities “will go to the ends of the Earth” to find whoever carried out the attack. At his Tuesday White House briefing, President Obama called it a “heinous, cowardly” act of terrorism. Now investigators must determine whether the bombing was planned and carried out by a domestic or an international terrorist group or an individual.

Moving Forward Together

Authorities have moved quickly to let Americans know they are safe. The governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, stressed that only two explosive devices were found on Monday. And the FBI reassured area residents that “there are no known additional threats.”

Obama pointed out that Americans respond to evil by acting “selflessly, compassionately, unafraid.” On Monday, he had called Boston a tough and resilient town and said Bostonians would pull together, take care of each other and move forward. “As they do,” the President said, “the American people will be with them every single step of the way.”