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|March 7, 2014|
Boston on high alert after marathon bombings
BOSTON - A swat police member stands on guard on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue following the bombing during the Boston marathon Monday.
Boston was put on high alert Monday as the FBI took over the hunt for whoever set off two powerful bombs at the finish line of the city's marathon, killing at least three people and wounding at least 140 people in a vicious blizzard of shrapnel, officials said.
"I am not prepared to say we are at ease at this point in time," Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said at a briefing six hours after the attack transformed the celebrated race into a blood-spattered crime scene.
The bombs were filled with ball bearings that sprayed into the crowd when they exploded, law enforcement officials told NBC News. The dead included an 8-year-old boy, law enforcement officials said, and some victims lost limbs.
At an evening briefing, officials said the National Guard had cordoned off the area to preserve evidence. Police were planning to be out in force at daybreak. Commuters were warned their bags would be searched.
Long after nightfall, investigators were inspecting the mounds of personal belongings left by those fleeing to scene to make sure there were no more explosives, while firefighters were chasing bomb scares around the jittery city. SWAT team members were on patrol at several hotels in the Back Bay area.
Water cannons were used to clear a number of suspicious packages near the scene. A fire at the John F. Kennedy presidential library more than an hour after the blasts appeared to simply be caused by an electrical short, police said.
Massachusetts Gov. Patrick Deval said only the streets around the bombing site would be on lockdown but he urged everyone to be vigilant.
"It will not be business as usual," he said. "It's not going to be easy, simple or regular."
The FBI said it was flooding the city with investigators from the Joint Terrorism Task Force and declined to say if agents had any suspects or clues to a motive.
"It is a criminal investigation that is a potential terrorist investigation," said Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers.
Boston police issued an alert for a rental van that may have sought access to the marathon route, and another alert for a man wearing dark clothing and a hood who was seen leaving the scene of the blasts.
But as he revealed the death toll had climbed to three, Police Commissioner Ed Davis stressed that authorities had not identified a suspect and were instead "talking to" numerous people.
"This cowardly act will not be taken in stride," Davis said. "We will turn every rock over to find out who is responsible for this."
His comments echoed President Obama's vow earlier in the day to bring the attacker or attackers to justice.
"We still do not know who did this or why, and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts, but make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this," Obama said from the White House several hours after the blasts.
The two blasts, about 20 seconds apart just before 3 p.m. in the thick of the race, sent huge plumes of white smoke into the air, forced marathoners and spectators to run for their lives, and left a ghastly tableau on streets that had been filled with joys moments before.
"In 28 years, this is definitely the worst I've seen," said District Fire Chief Ron Harrington of the Boston Fire Department's District 3.
"Bodies and body parts. Blood all over. A little boy lying in the street. A young woman in her twenties. Both dead. It was mayhem. I saw two people with arms hanging loose, and one without a leg. A shoe with flesh still in it."
Video from the scene show one marathoner thrown to the ground by the force, police desperately tearing down barriers to get to victims, medics pushing gurneys loaded with dazed men and women to ambulances.
“All the sudden there was a massive boom. There was a sort of concussive blow that pushed a lot of people back. I could see runners falling in front of me,” said Dave Abel, a reporter for The Boston Globe who was 10 feet from one of the explosions.
“When the smoke started to clear, I could see lots of bodies,” he said. “I could see one woman staring vacantly into the sky. I could see a lot of mangled limbs, a lot of blood and shattered glass. It was probably the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen.” (Source: MSNBC)
Story Date: April 16, 2013