At 2:56 pm on the afternoon of April 15, 2013, two explosions rocked the scene of the finish line at the 117th Boston Marathon on Boyleston Street. The explosions occurred within seconds of one another, and were located 50 to 100 yards apart. The marathon’s medical tent became a makeshift morgue as first responders struggled to help the wounded.
Roupen Bastajian, a 35-year-old state trooper from Rhode Island, who had just finished running the marathon when the explosions struck, told the press, “At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing.” More than 100 people were injured in the bombing; three, including an 8-year-old child, were killed. As of this writing, eight victims were in critical condition and 14 were in serious condition.
Federal agents confirmed that the bombings were an act of terrorism at 4:24 pm. Authorities do not yet know who was behind this attack, or whether the person or persons responsible are domestic or foreign. As of 6:02 pm on the evening of April 15, ATF agents were questioning a “person of interest” at Brigham and Women’s hospital. Authorities were given no warning of today’s terrorist attack.
Three more bombs were discovered and safely removed in the aftermath of the explosions. The bombs were small, portable, and crude in manufacture. A third explosion at the John F. Kennedy Library in Dorchester, MA, was initially claimed to have been related to the Boston Marathon bombings, but police have told ABC News that this event was most likely an unrelated fire. No one was injured in the library.
Area cell networks were overloaded in the hours following the explosions, and rumors that police had shut down cell service began circulating over social media. Carriers Verizon Wireless and Sprint have confirmed that they were never asked to shut down service. The FAA did, however, close the air space above the scene from 4:13 pm to 5:48 pm. Logan Airport was briefly closed. Nearby hotels, including the Marriott at Copley Place and the Lenox Hotel, were evacuated as a precaution.
Almost 27,000 runners took part in this year’s Boston Marathon, which occurs every year on Patriots Day, a holiday that commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord, some of the first of the American Revolution. Some 17,000 runners had already crossed the finish line when the explosions struck, about four hours after the race commenced. The area around the finish line is most crowded at this part of the race, when relatives, friends and well-wishers gather to cheer for the many amateur runners who are likely to be crossing the finish line at this time. The race was stopped immediately following the explosions.
Today’s Boston Marathon commemorated the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which took place on December 14 of last year. The Newtown Strong Fund dedicated each of the 26 miles of the Boston Marathon to one of the victims of that shooting. Runners and spectators observed 26 seconds of silence before the race began, and a mile marker placed at mile 26 commemorated the victims of Sandy Hook. Nine of today’s runners were residents of Newtown. All are reported safe.