BOSTON — Two bombs that shattered Monday’s annual Patriots Day running of the Boston Marathon Monday killed at least three people, including an eight-year-old boy, and left more than 100 wounded, according to police, hospital and race organizers.
While not confirmed as either a domestic or international terrorist attack as late Monday night, the twin blasts — combined with reports that authorities had found at least two devices that never detonated — drew a siege of FBI, Homeland Security and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms investigators, along with Boston and Massachusetts State Police.
And President Obama, speaking in a news conference from Washington shortly after 6 p.m., promised the state and the city of Boston that the federal government is mobilizing all of the appropriate resources “to investigate and respond.”
“We do not know who did this, or why,” the president said. “But we will get to the bottom of this, and we will find out who did this, we will find out why,” he added, vowing that any persons or groups resopnsible will be held accountable.
CBS News reported Monday night that FBI agents were questioning a male Saudi national who had been “acting suspiciously,” ran from the scene of the blasts and was tackled by a pedestrian and turned over to Boston Police. But officials could not confirm whether he had any defined role in the explosions.
Officials also shut down cell-phone service in and out of Boston late Monday afternoon, on the premise that cell signals can be used as detonation signals, and authorities temporarily shut down Mass. Bay Transportation Authority services, though the MBTA resumed full service Monday night, and commuter rail lines are running today.
The chaos began about two hours after the winners crossed the line, with was a loud explosion on the north side of Boylston Street, just before the photo bridge that marks the finish line. Another explosion could be heard some 12 seconds later.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, in a 4:45 p.m. news conference, initially said a potential third device also exploded at the JFK Library, some 5 miles from the marathon scene. But police later said that incident may have been tied to an “incendiary dedvice or a fire,” and was not believed to be related to the marathon explosions.
Officials at Massachusetts General Hospital said that 22 people were being treated in its emergency room alone Monday night in the wake of the explosions, including six who were in critical condition and five listed as serious — most from “traumatic amputations” of limbs. Victims were taken to Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Tufts University Medical Center as well.
Competitors and race volunteers alike were crying as they fled the chaos. Bloody spectators were being carried to the medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners. Authorities went onto the course to carry away the injured while stragglers in the 26.2-mile race were rerouted away from the smoking site.
Around the finish line, Roupen Bastajian, a 35-year-old state trooper from Greenville, R.I., had just finished the race and was draped in a heat blanket wrap when he heard the first blast.
“I started running toward the blast. And there were people all over the floor,” he said. “We started grabbing tourniquets and started tying legs. A lot of people (had limbs) amputated. ... At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing.”
A Boston police officer was wheeled from the course with a leg injury that was bleeding.
“There are a lot of people down,” said one man, whose bib No. 17528 identified him as Frank Deruyter of North Carolina. He was not injured, but marathon workers were carrying one woman, who did not appear to be a runner, to the medical area as blood gushed from her leg.
Smoke rose from the blasts, fluttering through the national flags that line the route of the world’s oldest and most prestigious marathon. TV helicopter footage showed blood staining the pavement in the popular shopping and tourist area known as the Back Bay.
“There are people who are really, really bloody,” said Laura McLean, a runner from Toronto, who was in the medical tent being treated for dehydration when she was pulled out to make room for victims of the explosions. “They were pulling them into the medical tent.”
Cherie Falgoust was waiting for her husband, who was running the race.
“I was expecting my husband any minute,” she said. “I don’t know what this building is ... it just blew. Just a big bomb, a loud boom, and then glass everywhere. Something hit my head. I don’t know what it was. I just ducked.”