Two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon on Patriots Day, killing three spectators, including an 8-year-old boy, and injuring more than 140 other onlookers and runners.
There were 300 Hoosiers who took part in the marathon but all were reported to be uninjured. A handful of those runners were from Hendricks County. Among those scheduled to participate were Kimberley Porter, 41, of Avon; Nick E. Purdy, 25, of Brownsburg; Gary D. Hughes, 45, of Brownsburg; Jamie A. Owens, 40, of Plainfield; Kelly B. Thomas, 38, of Plainfield; and Kristen M. Downey, 27, of Plainfield.
Officers sweeping the area screened other suspicious packages in the vicinity, but officials said they did not discover any other explosives.
A fire-and-smoke incident less than two hours later at the cross-town John F. Kennedy Library was first thought to be related, but upon further investigation police determined it was an electrical fire and not connected.
The explosions near the finish line occurred more than four hours after the start of the race, and after 17,600 of the 27,000 runners had finished. The men’s winner, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, and the women’s winner, Rite Jeptoo of Kenya, crossed the finish line two hours before the bombs went off.
Race organizers said most of the runners still completing the race at the time of the explosions were running for charity organizations and not among the elite marathoners.
The injured were first taken to medical tents set up to treat fatigued runners, then transferred by ambulance to Boston hospitals. Massachusetts General Hospital said six people taken there were in critical condition, five in serious condition.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said the marathon course bombs exploded at 2:50 p.m. in trash cans about 50 to 100 yards apart near the finish line on Boyleston Street, close to the Boston Public Library.
Witnesses reported a huge plume of white smoke, followed by a chaotic scene of screaming and crying by spectators lining the street and the runners approaching the end of their grueling 26.2-mile race.
Jill Harmacinski, a reporter covering the race for The Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, Mass., said the explosions sounded like cannon blasts or gun shots. She said there was “blood all over Boylston Street” at and near the finish line.
“It was awful,” Harmacinski said. “Everybody was running away from the smoke, and many of them were covered in blood. It was a confusing and scary scene.”
President Barack Obama phoned Massachusetts Gov. Duval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino after receiving a briefing on the situation from Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco.
“He offered the complete assistance of the FBI and all other federal agencies,” the governor announced at a news conference. “Every resource at our disposal will be used to bring those responsible for this ghastly act to justice.”
Obama on Tuesday said that the Boston Marathon bombings were “an act of terror” against civilians.
“It was a heinous and cowardly act,” the president said from a press conference at the White House. As to the perpetrators, Obama said: “We will bring them to justice.”
Obama ordered the flag above the White House lowered to half-staff, while inside he was huddling with top advisers, receiving the latest details on the investigation into the attack.
Obama also noted that Monday was Patriots Day, a state holiday in Massachusetts commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord and the start of the American Revolution more than 235 years ago.
“Boston is a tough and resilient town; so are its people,” he said. “I’m sure the people of Boston will pull together.”
Almost 27,000 runners from 96 countries competed in the marathon, a signature event for Boston and the world running community.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Tuesday directed flags at state facilities in all counties of Indiana be flown at half-staff.
Obama signed a proclamation Tuesday morning honoring the victims of Monday’s tragedy in Boston and ordering flags nationwide to be flown at half-staff. Per the President’s directive, flags are to remain at half-staff until sunset on April 20.
Pence also asks businesses and residents across the state to lower their flags to half-staff to honor the victims and their families.
— Details for this story were provided by The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass., a CNHI sister publication.