Boston bombing sparks fear among univ. students, some with ties to race

Boston Marathon 2013

Boston Marathon 2013

Garrett Gleason had been following his mother’s progress in the Boston Marathon all Monday morning through text updates from the race’s website.

His mom, Marilee Gleason, crossed the finish line about seven minutes before an explosion, followed by another, shattered windows and knocked runners and spectators to the ground, killing at least three people and injuring more than 100. As soon as a friend alerted the senior music major of the blasts, he began dialing and learned a few minutes later his mom and dad were safe.

“But those five minutes of two failed calls toward them were terrifying,” said Gleason, whose parents were already driving out of the city when he reached them. “I know what happened with my mom was a coincidence, luck. She just squeezed through. I’m just so thankful. My concerns are going out to any runners who didn’t get to finish but also any marathon watchers and families who were injured by it or affected at all.”

Authorities did not know who or what was responsible for the incident as of Monday evening, President Obama said in a White House news conference, but officials would heighten security around the country “as necessary.”

“Make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this, and we will find out who did this. We’ll find out why they did this,” Obama said. “Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”

New York- and Washington-area police put additional officers on duty as a precaution, according to multiple reports. Prince George’s County Police and University Police have also increased surveillance, though University Police reported there were no threats to the campus or area.

Officers found several other explosive devices near the marathon finish line, according to Associated Press reports. Police reported a third explosion at John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum about an hour later, but preliminary investigations indicated it appeared to be an unrelated fire, Boston police tweeted.

When the explosions hit shortly before 3 p.m., Gleason’s parents were picking up his mother’s medal about a quarter mile away from the finish line. They didn’t have time to text or call their friends and family as they tried to get to safety, he said.

“Their concerns, I’m sure, were more about getting out of there and then getting in touch with everyone to let us know they were safe,” Gleason said.

The 26.2-mile race is among the oldest annual marathons in the world. It is one of the city’s biggest annual events, with more than 27,000 people from around the world participating in this year’s marathon.

Images of blood on the streets and red cups scattered across water stations shocked senior Rosemary Starobin, who has volunteered at marathons and has cheered on her mother at past events. Several members of her mother’s running group safely finished the Boston event, she said.

“[A marathon] is a milestone in your life; it’s a big deal,” the education and mathematics major said. “Everyone is there cheering on strangers. It’s nothing but a positive place. It hurt me that someone would do this.”

“To target people running in a marathon is just horrible,” Starobin added.

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