The bombs that blew just seconds apart at the finish line of one of the world's most well-known races caused confusion and chaos, scattered runners and spectators, left the streets spattered with blood and glass and resulted in the death of three people, including an 8-year-old boy. More than 140 others have been wounded. Federal investigators are now at work to answer the questions of who chose to attack at the Boston Marathon and why.
The UCC's historic Old South Church – which sits at the finish line of the 26-mile race, blesses the runners and rings bells for the winners – remained closed Tuesday in the aftermath of the deadly explosions, but continues to offer prayers for its hometown and the people affected.
Posted on the church's facebook page, "Old South Church in Boston flies our three Marathon Banners today, In MEMORY of those whose lives were taken, with PRAYERS for those who are harmed and grieving, In THANKSGIVING for all First Responders."
Federal investigators said no one had claimed responsibility for the bombings on one of the city's most famous civic holidays, Patriots Day. But the blasts, the first apparently triggered in a trash can, struck about 10 seconds and 100 yards apart, turning one of city's most cherished rites of spring into a scene of death and destruction, and raising fears of a terrorist attack.
The Rev. Emily Heath, a UCC minister in Boston, in a column for the Huffington Post, wrote: "Whomever placed the bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon today knew what they were doing. And they knew that when they were detonated, they would strike a psychic as well as physical blow to the city. They timed this, and they knew what they were doing. They wanted to forever transform that block of Boylston Street from a place of celebration to a place of pain." But, she continued, "they don't get to do that."
Many of the people of Boston are showing that determination in the face of this tragedy. Volunteers running into the smoke to help those wounded instead of away from the bombs. The Rev. Jim Antal, Massachusetts Conference Minister and President posted a prayer on the conference website, reflecting that same spirit.
"The people of Massachusetts love the Boston Marathon. My wife and I were at the bottom of the hill in Hopkinton this morning – watching with wonder and enthusiasm. We were among the hundreds of thousands here – and tens of millions the world over – who embrace all that this marathon represents," wrote Antal. "These heinous acts of violence cannot and will not diminish the good will the marathon will bring in the future." Also included – a link to resources to help UCC churches respond in the aftermath of the bombings.
Authorities plan to search through videos from surveillance cameras near the attack in Boston's Copley Square. So far, no footage has been spotted showing someone placing the bombs. A 15-block area around the crime scene on Boylston Street has been shut down to the public until further notice.
Investigators, including bomb experts have already searched an apartment in Revere, Mass., and removed items, but have not said how the search is linked to the explosion.
The reverberations were felt far outside the city, with law enforcement in New York and Washington, D.C., stepping up security at important locations. Near the White House, the Secret Service cordoned off Pennsylvania Avenue out of what one spokesman described as "an abundance of caution."
President Obama, speaking at the White House, vowed to bring those responsible for the blasts to justice. "We will get to the bottom of this," the president said. "We will find who did this, and we will find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice."
The Boston Marathon is one of the world's oldest and most prestigious races, and about 23,000 runners participated this year. It is held on Patriots Day, which commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution, at Concord and Lexington, in 1775. This year's race honored the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shooting with a special mile marker.