Boston Marathon Bombings

Map of the attacks
Map of the attacks

During the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, two pressure cooker bombs exploded at 2:49 pm EDT (18:49 UTC), killing 3 people and injuring 264 others. The bombs exploded about 13 seconds and 210 yards (190 m) apart, near the finish line on Boylston Street.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) took over the investigation, and on April 18, released photographs and surveillance video of two suspects. The suspects were identified later that day as Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Shortly after the FBI released the images, the suspects allegedly killed an MIT police officer, carjacked an SUV, and initiated an exchange of gunfire with the police in Watertown, Massachusetts. During the firefight, an MBTA police officer was injured but survived, in spite of severe blood loss. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was run over by his brother Dzhokhar, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was injured but escaped. An unprecedented manhunt ensued on April 19, with thousands of law enforcement officers searching a 20-block area of Watertown.

During the manhunt, the authorities asked residents of Watertown and surrounding areas, including Boston, to stay indoors, and the public transportation system and most businesses and public institutions were shut down, resulting in a deserted urban environment of historic size and duration. At around 7 pm, shortly after the “shelter-in-place” advisory was rescinded, a Watertown resident discovered the suspect hiding in a boat in his back yard. Dzhokhar was arrested and taken to a hospital shortly there after.

During an initial interrogation in the hospital, Dzhokhar, who was arrested not having been read his Miranda rights, said Tamerlan was the mastermind. He said they were motivated by extremist Islamist beliefs and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that they were self-radicalized and unconnected to any outside terrorist groups, but that they had learned how to build explosive devices from an online magazine of the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen. He said that he and his brother had decided after the Boston bombings to travel to New York City to bomb Times Square. Dzhokhar was charged on April 22, while still in the hospital, with use of a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death.


On Patriots’ Day, Monday, April 15, 2013, the annual Boston Marathon began without any indications of an imminent attack. Officials swept the area for bombs twice before the explosions, the second sweep occurred one hour before the bombs went off. People were able to come and go freely, and carry bags and items in and out of the area.

At 2:49 pm EDT (18:49 UTC), about two hours after the winner crossed the finish line, but with more than 5,700 runners yet to finish, two bombs detonated on Boylston Street near Copley Square about 210 yards (190 m) apart, just before the finish line. The first exploded outside Marathon Sports at 671–673 Boylston Street at 2:49:43 pm EDT. At the time of the first explosion, the race clock at the finish line showed 04:09:43, reflecting the elapsed time since the Wave 3 start at 10:40 am EDT. The second bomb exploded at 2:49:57 pm EDT, about 13 seconds later and one block farther west at 755 Boylston Street.

The blasts blew out windows on adjacent buildings but did not cause any structural damage. Some runners continued to cross the line until 2:57 pm EDT, 8 minutes after the explosions.

Casualties and initial response

Rescue workers and medical personnel, on hand to assist runners and bystanders, rushed available aid to wounded victims in the bombings’ immediate aftermath. Each explosion caused injuries and death totaling 3 spectators killed and 264 casualties whose injuries were treated in 27 local hospitals. At least 14 people required amputations with some suffering traumatic amputations as a direct result of the blasts.

The marathon was halted abruptly. Police, following emergency plans, diverted the remaining runners away from the finish line to Boston Common and Kenmore Square. The nearby Lenox Hotel and other buildings were evacuated. Police closed down a 15-block area around the blast site, this was reduced to a 12-block crime scene on April 16. Massachusetts Army National Guard soldiers already at the scene joined local authorities in rendering aid. Boston police commissioner Ed Davis recommended that people stay off the streets.

Many people dropped backpacks and other bags as they fled, requiring each to be treated as a potential bomb. A number of news reports stated that more bombs had been found nearby and the Boston Police Bomb Squad said they would perform a controlled explosion on the 600 block of Boylston Street, but in the end no other bombs were found. Some media outlets also reported a potential bombing at the John F Kennedy Presidential Library in the Dorchester section of the city, but this turned out to be an unrelated electrical fire. The Navy sent one of its bomb-disposal units to Boston to help local authorities.

As a precaution, the Federal Aviation Administration restricted airspace over Boston, and issued a temporary ground stop for Boston’s Logan International Airport. Some Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority service was halted. Several cities in Massachusetts and other states put their police forces on alert. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder directed that the “full resources” of the U.S. Department of Justice be brought to bear on investigating the explosions.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency suggested people trying to contact those in the vicinity use text messaging, instead of voice calls, because of crowded cellphone lines. Cellphone service in Boston was congested but remained in operation, despite some local media reports stating that cell service was shut down to prevent cell phones from being used as detonators.

The American Red Cross helped concerned friends and family receive information about runners and casualties. The Boston Police Department also set up a helpline for people concerned about relatives or acquaintances to contact and a line for people to provide information. Google Person Finder activated their disaster service under Boston Marathon Explosions to log known information about missing persons as a publicly viewable file.

Because of the closure of several hotels near the blast zone, some out-of-town visitors were left with nowhere to stay, many Boston-area residents opened their homes to them.


The Federal Bureau of Investigation led the investigation, assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, treating the bombings as a terrorist attack and naming two official suspects.

United States government officials stated that there had been no intelligence reports that indicated such a bombing would take place. Representative Peter King, member of the House Intelligence Committee said: “I received two top secret briefings last week on the current threat levels in the United States, and there was no evidence of this at all.”

Following the identification of the suspects, their father claimed that the FBI had been watching his family and questioned his sons in Cambridge, Massachusetts, five times in relation to possible explosions on the streets of Boston.

At the site of the explosion, investigators found shrapnel that included bits of metal, nails, and bearing balls, as well as black nylon pieces from a backpack. The lid of a pressure cooker was found on a nearby rooftop. Investigators also found the remains of an electronic circuit board and wiring. All evidence was sent to the FBI Laboratory for analysis. Both of the improvised explosive devices were pressure cooker bombs, manufactured by the bombers. Authorities reportedly confirmed that the brothers used bomb making instructions found in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire. After the suspects were identified, The Boston Globe reported that Tamerlan purchased fireworks from a fireworks store in New Hampshire.

On April 19, the FBI, West New York Police Department, and Hudson County Sheriff’s Department seized computer equipment from the suspects’ sister’s apartment located in West New York, New Jersey.

On April 24, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security released a joint intelligence bulletin which the Los Angeles Times reports to include the “preliminary analysis of recovered evidence, for each device”. The report says investigators believe that the two homemade bombs used were triggered by long-range remote controls used for toy cars, and that investigators have finished a preliminary reconstruction of the bombs that were used during the April 15 attacks.

Events of April 18–19

Identification of suspects: Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev caught on surveillance video
Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev caught on surveillance video

Jeff Bauman, a victim who lost both legs, was adjacent to the location of one of the bombs, upon recovering consciousness, he asked for pen and paper and wrote a note to the FBI, “bag, saw the guy, looked right at me”. Bauman was later able to provide detailed descriptions to the authorities of a suspect who was seen placing a backpack beside him at the bombing scene two and a half minutes before it exploded, enabling the photo to be identified and circulated quickly.

The suspects, initially identified by the FBI as unnamed suspects 1 and 2 (or “black hat” and “white hat”, respectively) from photographic and video evidence, had “acted differently” after the explosions, they had stayed to watch the aftermath and walked away “casually”, rather than fleeing. Asked for assistance in identifying the suspects, the public provided a deluge of photographs and home movie records to police, which were scrutinized by both authorities and online public social networks.

Despite video footage taken at the scene, the suspects were not identified by authorities before killing a police officer and hijacking a civilian. The actual source of identification was DMV records on the Honda vehicle, which was used in a subsequent kidnapping and then abandoned. The suspects were then identified as two brothers whose family had immigrated to the United States as refugees around 2002: 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev , born on October 21, 1986, and killed on April 19, 2013, and 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev , born on July 22, 1993.

MIT shooting and carjacking

A few hours after the photos were released, the suspects allegedly shot Sean A. Collier of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Police Department multiple times, killing him for his gun which they could not get out because of the holster’s retention system. Collier, aged 27, was seated in his police car near the Stata Center (Building 32), on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus. He was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital in nearby downtown Boston, where he was pronounced dead. Some law enforcement officials have described the killing as an assassination.

The duo then allegedly carjacked a Mercedes-Benz SUV in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood of Boston, Tamerlan taking the owner hostage and telling him that he was responsible for the Boston bombings and for killing a police officer. Dzhokhar followed them in the green Honda, later joining them in the Mercedes-Benz. Later interrogation allegedly revealed that the brothers “decided spontaneously” to go to New York and planned to bomb Times Square.

The suspects forced the hostage to use his ATM cards to obtain $800 in cash until the daily cash withdrawal limit was reached. They transferred objects to the Mercedes-Benz and one brother followed it in their Honda Civic, for which an all-points bulletin was issued. The car’s owner, Danny, a Chinese national, escaped while the suspects stopped at a gas station, he ran across the street to another gas station, asking the clerk to call 911. His cellphone remained in the vehicle, allowing the police to track it.

Firefight with police

Shortly after midnight on April 19, a Watertown police officer identified the brothers in a Honda Civic and the stolen SUV, and a “ferocious” gunfight followed on the 100 block of Laurel Ave, between the brothers and police arriving at the scene. An estimated 200–300 rounds of ammunition were fired and at least one further bomb and several “crude grenades” were thrown.

According to Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau, the brothers had an “arsenal of guns.” Also according to Deveau, the older brother, Tamerlan, ran out of ammunition and was tackled and apprehended by police, while the younger brother Dzhokhar drove the stolen SUV towards police and proceeded to drive over Tamerlan, dragging him a short distance down the street. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sped off, but about a half-mile away at the corner of Spruce and Lincoln streets he abandoned the car and escaped on foot.

According to two anonymous officials, only one Ruger 9mm pistol was recovered from the scene and one of them said it had a defaced serial number. The Boston Globe reported that within a 10-minute span, “police officers fired what may be an unprecedented number of rounds in a single police incident in recent state history … spraying the neighborhood … leaving at least a dozen nearby houses pockmarked with dozens of bullet holes”. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was captured and transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead on April 19 at 1:35 am The emergency room doctors said that he did not appear to have been run over.

According to the death certificate, Tsarnaev’s cause of death was “gunshot wounds of torso and extremities, blunt trauma to head and torso,” and “shot by police then run over and dragged by motor vehicle.” Tamerlan’s younger brother Dzhokhar ran him over with an SUV and dragged him with the vehicle for 20 feet (6.1 m). The death was ruled a homicide.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the morgue
Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the morgue

During the firefight, 33-year-old MBTA Police Officer Richard H. Donahue Jr. was also critically wounded by what may have been friendly fire. He was taken to Mount Auburn Hospital, where he was in critical but stable condition. Fifteen other police officers sustained minor injuries during the firefight.

Manhunt and capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

The FBI released additional photos of the two during the Watertown incident. Early on April 19, Watertown residents received reverse 911 calls asking them to stay indoors. On the morning of April 19, Governor Patrick asked residents of Watertown and adjacent cities and towns (Allston-Brighton, Boston, Belmont, Brookline, Cambridge, Newton, and Waltham) to “shelter in place”. Somerville residents also received a reverse-911 call asking them to voluntarily shelter in place.

A 20-block area of Watertown was cordoned off and residents were told not to leave their homes or answer the door as officers in tactical gear scoured the area. Helicopters circled the area and SWAT teams in armored vehicles moved through in formation, with officers going door-to-door. On the scene were the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Guard, the Boston and Watertown Police departments and the Massachusetts State Police. The show of force was the first major field test of the interagency task forces created in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

The entire public transit network, as well as most Boston taxi service, was suspended, as was Amtrak service to and from Boston. Logan International Airport remained open under heightened security. Universities, schools, many businesses, and other facilities were closed as thousands of law enforcement personnel participated in an unprecedented door-to-door manhunt in Watertown, as well as following up other leads, including at the house the brothers shared in Cambridge. Seven improvised explosive devices were recovered by bomb squads.

The father of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers, speaking from his home in Makhachkala, Dagestan, encouraged his son to, “Give up. Give up. You have a bright future ahead of you. Come home to Russia.” He continued, “If they killed him, then all hell would break loose.” On television, Dzhokhar’s uncle from Montgomery Village, Maryland, pleaded with him to turn himself in.

The manhunt ended on the evening of April 19, two hours after the shelter-in-place order had been lifted. Outside the search area, a Watertown resident stepped outside and noticed that the cover on his boat in his back yard was loose. He looked into the boat and saw a body lying in a pool of blood, and he promptly notified police. Authorities surrounded the boat and verified movement through a forward looking infrared thermal imaging device in a State Police helicopter. When the suspect started poking at the tarp of the boat, police began a large volume of gunfire at the boat, stopping only after the Superintendent on the scene called for a cease fire. Celebrations followed law enforcement’s capture of Tsarnaev.

According to Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, and Police Chief Deveau, Tsarnaev was shooting from inside the boat at police, “exchanging fire for an hour.” After he was captured, Tsarnaev was found not to have any weapons. He was taken into custody at 8:42 pm and transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds to the head, neck, legs and hand. Initial reports that the neck wound was from a self-inflicted gunshot from a possible suicide attempt were later contradicted by the revelation that he was unarmed at the time of capture and a description of the neck wound by SWAT team members that the neck wound was a slicing injury, possibly caused by shrapnel from an explosion.

Map of the events
Map of the events

Legal proceedings


United States Senators Kelly Ayotte, Saxby Chambliss, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain, and Representative Peter T. King, suggested that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a U.S. citizen, should be tried as an unlawful enemy combatant rather than as a criminal, potentially preventing him from obtaining legal counsel. Other sources, including Alan Dershowitz, a prominent American legal scholar and lawyer, said that doing so would be illegal and would jeopardize the prosecution. The government decided to try Dzhokhar in the federal criminal court system and not as an enemy combatant.

Dzhokhar was questioned for 16 hours by investigators but stopped communicating with them on the night of April 22 after Judge Marianne Bowler read him a Miranda warning. Dzhokhar had not previously been given a Miranda warning, as federal law enforcement officials invoked the warning’s public safety exception. This raised doubts whether the suspect’s statements during this investigation would be admissible as evidence and led to a debate surrounding Miranda rights.

Charges and detention

On April 22, formal criminal charges were brought against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts during a bedside hearing while he was hospitalized. He was charged with use of a weapon of mass destruction, and with malicious destruction of property resulting in death. The charges carry potential sentences of life imprisonment or the death penalty. Tsarnaev was judged to be awake, mentally competent, and lucid, and he responded to most questions by nodding. When the judge asked him whether he was able to afford an attorney, he responded “no”, he is represented by the Federal Public Defender’s office. On April 26, Dzhohkar Tsarnaev was moved from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to the Federal Medical Center at Fort Devens, about 40 miles (64 km) from Boston. FMC Devens is a federal prison medical facility at a former Army base where he is being held in solitary confinement at a segregated housing unit with 23-hour-per-day lockdown.

On July 10, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to 30 charges in his first public court appearance, including a murder charge for MIT police officer Sean Collier.

Motives and backgrounds

According to FBI interrogators, Dzhokhar and his brother were motivated by extremist Islamic beliefs, and “were not connected to any known terrorist groups”, instead learning to build explosive weapons from an online magazine published by al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen. It is further alleged that “Dzhokhar and his brother considered suicide attacks and striking on the Fourth of July, but ultimately decided to use pressure cooker bombs (capable of remote detonation) and other IEDs.” Fox News reported that the brothers “chose the prestigious race as a ‘target of opportunity’ … after the building of the bombs came together more quickly than expected”.

Dzhokhar said he and his brother wanted to defend Islam from the U.S., which conducted the Iraq War and War in Afghanistan, in the view of the brothers, against Muslims. Later a CBS report revealed that a note scrawled by Dzhokhar with a marker on the interior wall of the boat where he was hiding said the bombings were “retribution for U.S. military action in Afghanistan and Iraq”, and called the Boston victims ‘collateral damage’, “in the same way innocent victims have been collateral damage in U.S. wars around the world.” According to The New York Times the portion of the boat’s interior with the note would likely be cut from the hull with permission from the owner and presented in court as evidence.

Despite the seemingly outwardly religious motivation of the Tsarnaev brothers, some political science and public policy scholars suggest that Islam may have only played a secondary role in the attacks. Sympathy towards the political aspirations in the Caucasus region and Tamerlan’s inability to become fully integrated into American society appear to be the primary motives in their opinion. According to The Los Angeles Times, a law enforcement official said Dzhokhar “did not seem as bothered about America’s role in the Muslim world” as his brother Tamerlan had been. Dzhokhar identified Tamerlan as the “driving force” behind the bombings, and said that his brother had only recently recruited him to help.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was born in 1986 in the Kalmyk Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, North Caucasus. Dzhokhar was born in 1993 in Kyrgyzstan, although some reports say his family claims he was born in Dagestan. The family spent time in Tokmok, Kyrgyzstan, and in Makhachkala, Dagestan. They are half Chechen through their father, Anzor, and half Avar through their mother, Zubeidat. Although they never lived in Chechnya the brothers self-identified as Chechen.

The Tsarnaev family emigrated in 2002 to the United States, where they applied for refugee status, settling in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Tamerlan Tsarnaev attended Bunker Hill Community College but dropped out to become a boxer. His goal was a place on the U.S. Olympic boxing team saying that “unless his native Chechnya becomes independent” he would “rather compete for the United States than for Russia”. He was married on July 15, 2010 in the Masjid Al Quran Mosque in Dorchester, to a U.S. citizen, Katherine Russell, who was pregnant with their daughter. He stated that he “didn’t understand” Americans and had not a single American friend.” He had a history of violence, including an arrest in July 2009 for assaulting his then girlfriend.

The brothers are Muslim, with Tamerlan’s aunt stating that he had recently become a devout Muslim. Tamerlan, in the three years before his death, became more devout and religious, and a YouTube channel in his name linked to Salafist and Islamist videos. The FBI was informed by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in 2011 that he was a “follower of radical Islam.” In response, the FBI interviewed Tamerlan and his family, and searched databases, but did not find any evidence of “terrorism activity, domestic or foreign.” During the 2012 trip to Dagestan, Tamerlan was reportedly a frequent visitor at a mosque on Kotrova Street in Makhachkala, believed by the FSB to be linked with radical Islam. Some experts believe “they were motivated by their faith, apparently an anti-American, radical version of Islam” acquired in the U.S., while others believe the turn to radicalism happened in Dagestan.

At the time of the bombing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, with a major in marine biology. Dzhokhar became a naturalized U.S. citizen on September 11, 2012. Tamerlan’s boxing coach reported to NBC that the young brother was greatly affected by his brother and admired him.

Tamerlan Tsarnaey was previously connected, but at the time not a suspect, to the triple homicide in Waltham, Massachusetts on the evening of September 11, 2011. Brendan Mess, Erik Weissman, and Raphael Teken were murdered in Mess’ apartment. All had their throats slit from ear to ear, with such great force that they were nearly decapitated. The local district attorney said that it appeared that the killer and the victims knew each other, and that the murders were not random. Tamerlan Tsarnaev had previously described murder victim Brendan Mess as his “best friend.” After the bombings and subsequent revelations of Tsarnaev’s personal life, the Waltham murders case was reexamined in April 2013 with Tsarnaev as a new suspect. Both ABC and The New York Times have reported that there is strong evidence that implicate Tsarnaev and his younger brother for this triple homicide.

Some analysts claim the Tsarnaev brothers’ mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, is a radical extremist and supporter of jihad, who influenced her sons’ behavior. This prompted the Russian government to warn the U.S. government about the family’s behavior, on two occasions. Both Tamerlan and his mother were placed on a terrorism watch list about 18 months before the bombing took place.

According to a Wall Street Journal report citing statements by anonymous US officials, Russia withheld information from U.S. intelligence after its initial warning, after which it denied U.S. requests for more information.

Other arrests and detentions

On April 15, several people who were near the scene of the blast and the surrounding area were taken into custody and questioned about the bombings, including a Saudi man whom police stopped as he was walking away from the explosion, and detained when some of his responses to questions “made them uncomfortable”. Law enforcement searched his residence in a Boston suburb. CNN later reported that he was found to have no connection to the attack; an unnamed U.S. official said, “he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

On the night of April 18, two men riding in a taxi in the vicinity of the shootout were arrested and released shortly thereafter when police determined they were not involved in the Marathon attacks. Another man was arrested several blocks from the site of the shootout and was forced to strip naked by police who feared he might have concealed explosives. He was released that evening after a brief investigation determined that he was an innocent bystander.

On May 22, the FBI were interviewing Ibragim Todashev, a Chechen from Boston, in Orlando. During the interrogation he was shot and killed by an FBI officer who claimed that Todashev attacked him. The New York Times quoted an unnamed law enforcement official as saying that Todashev had confessed to the 2011 Waltham murders and implicated Tsarnaev as well. However, the father of Ibragim Todashev claims that his son is innocent and that federal investigators are biased against Chechens and made up their case against him.

Dias Kadyrbayev, Azamat Tazhayakov and Robel Phillipos

During the night of April 18–19, police arrested two Kazakhstan natives living in the U.S., Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov (19 and 20 years old, respectively) and an unnamed girlfriend of one of the men, at the off-campus housing complex at which Tsarnaev had sometimes stayed in New Bedford, Massachusetts. All three were soon released. The men were Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s roommates.

On April 20, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov were re-arrested in New Bedford, and held on immigration-related violations. On May 1, they appeared before a federal immigration judge and were charged with overstaying their student visas. That same day, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov were charged criminally with:

wilfully conspir(ing) with each other to commit an offense against the United States… by knowingly destroying, concealing and covering up objects belonging to Dzokhar… namely, a backpack containing fireworks and a laptop computer, with the intent to impede, obstruct, and influence the criminal investigation of the Marathon bombings.

If convicted, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov could be sentenced to up to five years imprisonment and assessed $250,000 fines. Tazhayakov denied any wrongdoing at the time of arrest.

Robel Phillipos, a 19-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, born in Ethiopia and living in Cambridge, was arrested and faces charges of knowingly making false statements to police. He graduated from high school in 2011 with the younger Tsarnaev brother. If convicted, Phillipos faces a maximum of eight years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. He was released on $100,000 bail, and placed under house confinement with an ankle bracelet.

Phillipos, Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov, and Tsarnaev entered the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in the fall of 2011 and knew each other well. After seeing photos of the as-yet unidentified Tsarnaev on television, the three men are alleged to have traveled to Tsarnaev’s dorm room where they retrieved a backpack and laptop belonging to Tsarnaev. The backpack was discarded, but Police recovered the backpack and contents in a nearby New Bedford landfill on April 26. During interviews, the men initially denied visiting the dorm room but later admitted their actions.


The bombings killed 3 people and injured 264. A number of the injuries were grievous, requiring intensive care, and appeared to be “war-like injuries” of mutilation, shrapnel wounds, and dismemberment. The trauma surgery chief at Boston Medical Center said: “We see patients like this, with mangled extremities, but we don’t see 16 of them at the same time, and we don’t see patients from blast injuries.” An MIT police officer, Sean A. Collier was fatally shot three days after the bombing, and a Transit Police officer was seriously wounded.


Three spectators were killed in the bombings: Krystle Marie Campbell, 29, a restaurant manager from Medford, Massachusetts, Lü Lingzi, 23, a Chinese national and Boston University graduate student from Shenyang, Liaoning, and Martin William Richard, an eight-year-old boy from the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, who was killed by the second bomb.

The victims
The victims

On April 18 at about 10:48 pm, Sean A. Collier, 27, an MIT police officer of Wilmington, Massachusetts living in Somerville, Massachusetts, was ambushed in his police car and died from multiple gunshot wounds allegedly from the bombing suspects.

MIT police officer Sean A. Collier
MIT police officer Sean A. Collier


According to the Boston Public Health Commission, 264 people were treated at 27 local hospitals. As of April 26, 29 victims remained in hospitals, with 1 in critical condition. Many victims suffered lower leg injuries and shrapnel wounds, which indicated the devices were low to the ground. At least 16 of the injured suffered severed limbs at the scene or by amputation in a hospital and 3 of these lost more than one limb.

Doctors described removing “ball-bearing type” metallic beads a little larger than BBs, and small carpenter-type nails about 1 to 2.5 centimeters (0.4 to 1.0 in) long. Similar objects were found at the scene. The New York Times stated that, according to doctors, because the bombs were low to the ground, the injuries mainly affected legs and feet instead of abdomens, chests, and heads, and as a result few deaths occurred. Some suffered ruptured eardrums.

During a firefight with the suspects just after midnight on April 19, 33-year-old MBTA police officer Richard H. Donohue Jr. was critically wounded. He lost almost all of his blood, and his heart stopped for 45 minutes, during which time he was kept alive by cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Marc Fucarile, who lost his right leg and suffered severe burns and shrapnel wounds, was the last victim released from hospital care, on July 24, 2013.


Law enforcement, local and national politicians, and various heads of state reacted quickly to the bombings, generally condemning the act and expressing sympathies for the victims.

Aid to victims

The One Fund Boston, established by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston mayor Thomas Menino and administered by attorney Kenneth Feinberg, expects to make distributions to bombing victims by June 30. “In my 20 years as mayor, I’ve never seen the business community come together so quickly,” said Mayor Menino. A week after the bombings, crowdfunding websites, such as GoFundMe, GiveForward, FundRazr, YouCaring and Fundly, received more than 23,000 pledges promising more than $2 million for the victims, their families, and others affected by the bombings. On May 30, 2013 the Boston Strong concert at the TD Garden in Boston benefitted the One Fund. The concert featured Aerosmith, James Taylor, Boston, J. Geils Band, Dropkick Murphys, New Kids on the Block, Bill Biv DeVoe, Boyz II Men, Jimmy Buffett, Carole King, Extreme, and Jason Aldean.

The Israel Trauma Coalition for Response and Preparedness sent six psychologists and specialists from Israel to help Boston emergency responder, government administrators, and community stakeholders develop post-terrorist attack recovery strategies.


As a safety precaution, the NHL postponed a Boston Bruins home game against the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden scheduled for April 15, to April 28 instead. The Boston Symphony Orchestra canceled its April 15 performance. On April 16, the MBTA public transit system, which was partly shut down, was under heavy National Guard and police presence and it was shut down a second time April 19 during the manhunt. The NBA’s Boston Celtics game scheduled for April 16 against the Indiana Pacers was canceled since both teams’ playoff seedings were already set. The Boston Red Sox game at Fenway, the Bruins game, and the Big Apple Circus performance scheduled for April 19, were postponed to support efforts of law enforcement officers. The NCAA announced on April 19 that the 2013 NCAA Men’s Division III Volleyball Championship, scheduled for April 26–28 at the MIT campus in Cambridge, would be moved to Nazareth College in the Rochester, New York area. Boston University established a scholarship in honor of Lü Lingzi, a student who died in the bombing. On April 26, the Celtics honored the bombing victims and first responders before their playoff game against the Knicks at home in the TD Garden.


President Barack Obama addressed the nation after the attack. He said that, although the perpetrators were still unknown, the government would “get to the bottom of this” and that those responsible “will feel the full weight of justice”. The President again addressed the American people the next day. He later described the bombing as an act of terror, declaring, “Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.” President Obama issued a proclamation ordering flags to half-staff until April 20 on all federal buildings as “a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on April 15, 2013, in Boston, Massachusetts.” On April 18 in Boston, President Obama addressed an interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross to honor the victims of the attacks.

A moment of silence was observed at the openings of the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, and NYMEX on the day after the bombings. Moments of silence were also held at various events across the country, including the Boston Remembrance Run held in Portland, Oregon, on April 17, which drew over 1,000 runners in a silent show of support.

The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon organizers asked runners, volunteers, and spectators to wear red socks in commemoration to the tragedy in Boston. Andrea Miles, an organizer for the Oklahoma City marathon said, “As Oklahomans and folks participating in the OKC Memorial Marathon, we have such a deep connection to not only the marathon but the events from the Murrah bombing that have led to this memorial,” Miles said. “So now we’re not just running to remember the 168 people who were lost in 1995 but also to honor Boston and stand in solidarity with them.”

On June 7, 2013, a cross-country relay, One Run for Boston, kicked off in Venice Beach, CA bound for Boston, MA. The massive relay was created and organized by three individuals from the UK, Danny Bent, Kate Treleaven and James Hay in support of the Boston One Fund. In just three weeks the One Run for Boston relay traveled over 3000 miles through fourteen different states. Running non-stop, over 2000 runners participated in 319 stages each ranging from 5–12 miles each. A GPS baton, affectionately named ‘Miles’, was carried by each stage to track the relay’s progress. In the final group stage, Miles, along with over 650 runners, crossed the Boston Marathon Finish Line at around 1am on July 1, 2013. The event elicited both local and national media coverage.


The bombings were denounced and condolences were offered by many international leaders as well as leading figures from international sport. Security measures were increased worldwide in the wake of the attack.

In China, users posted condolence messages on Weibo in response to the death of Lü Lingzi. Chris Buckley of The New York Times said “Ms. Lu’s death gave a melancholy face to the attraction that America and its colleges exert over many young Chinese.” Laurie Burkitt of The Wall Street Journal said “Ms. Lu’s death resonates with many in China” due to the one-child policy.

Organizers of the London Marathon, which was held six days after the Boston bombings, reviewed security arrangements for their event, despite there not being any threat against it. Hundreds of extra police officers were drafted in to provide a greater presence on the streets, but despite the security concerns a record 700,000 spectators lined the streets. Runners in London observed a 30-second silence in respect for the victims of Boston shortly before the race began, and many runners wore black ribbons on their vests. Organisers also pledged to donate US$3 to a fund for Boston Marathon victims for every person who finished the race.

Organizers of the 2013 Vancouver Sun Run, which was held on April 21, 2013, donated $10 from every late entry for the race to help victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Jamie Pitblado, vice-president of promotions for The Vancouver Sun and The Province, said the money would go to One Fund Boston, an official charity that’s collecting donations for the victims and their families. Sun Run organizers raised anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000. There were over 48,000 participants, many dressed in blue and yellow (Boston colors) with others wearing Boston Red Sox caps.

Petr Gandalovic, ambassador of the Czech Republic, released a statement after there was confusion between his nation and the similarly named Chechen Republic. “The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities – the Czech Republic is a Central European country, Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation.”

Russian reaction

The Russian government, which was planning several international sports events, including the 2014 Winter Olympics, stated that special attention would be paid to security at those events. President Vladimir Putin condemned the “barbaric crime” and “stressed that the Russian Federation will be ready, if necessary, to assist in the U.S. authorities’ investigation.” He urged closer cooperation of security services with Western partners.

Chechen reactions

On April 19, 2013, the press-secretary of the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, issued a statement that, inter alia, read: “The Boston bombing suspects have nothing to do with Chechnya”. On the same day, Kadyrov was reported by The Guardian to have written on Instagram:

“Any attempt to make a link between Chechnya and the Tsarnaevs, if they are guilty, is in vain. They grew up in the U.S., their views and beliefs were formed there. The roots of evil must be searched for in America. The whole world must battle with terrorism. We know this better than anyone. We wish recover to all the victims and share Americans’ feeling of sorrow.”

Akhmed Zakayev, head of the secular wing of the Chechen separatist movement, now in exile in London, condemned the bombings as “terrorist” and expressed condolences to the families of the victims. Zakayev denied that the bombers were in any way representative of the Chechen people, saying that “the Chechen people never had and can not have any hostile feelings toward the United States and its citizens.”

The Mujahideen of the Caucasus Emirate Province of Dagestan, the Caucasian Islamist organisation in both Chechnya and Dagestan, denied any link to the bombing or the Tsarnaev brothers and stated that it was at war with Russia, not the United States. It also said that it had sworn off violence against civilians since 2012.

Criticism of lockdown

The day-long lockdown was criticized as being an overreaction by some. Michael Cohen of The Observer said that Americans have little experience with daily terrorism compared to some countries and “are more primed to … assume the absolute worst”. He wrote that it was not the first time dangerous murderers have been on the loose in a large American city, naming Christopher Dorner in February 2013 and the Beltway sniper attacks in October 2002, yet in none of the previous cases had a lockdown been used. Moreover, critics, including Thomas R. Eddlem of The New American, Sean Collins of Spiked, and former Presidential candidate Ron Paul, said that martial law does not work; noting that the suspect was not found until the curfew was lifted. Paul characterized the lockdown as “a violation of civil liberties.”

Haaretz’s Chemi Salev wrote that “in terms of cost-benefit analysis, from the evil terrorist’s point of view, the Boston Street bombings and their aftermath can only be viewed as a resounding triumph”, since the “relatively amateurish” terrorists managed to intimidate a vast number of people and got a maximum amount of publicity. In The New York Times, Ross Douthat commented about Salev’s thoughts that the massive manhunt operation just might deter other amateur terrorists but not hard-core terrorists such as Mohammed Atta. Douthat argued that out-of-the-ordinary measures can only be used when terrorism itself is out-of-the-ordinary: if attacks started to occur more often, people would not be as willing to comply with shelter in place commands, yet once a terrorist has been hunted with such an operation, it is hard to justify why such measures should not be taken the next time.

Conflicting reports

On the afternoon of the bombings, The New York Post reported that a suspect, a Saudi Arabian male, was under guard and being questioned at a Boston hospital. That evening, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said that there had not been an arrest. The Post did not retract its story about the suspect, leading to widespread reports by CBS News, CNN, and other media that a Middle Eastern suspect was in custody. The day after the bombing, a majority of outlets were reporting that the Saudi was a witness, not a suspect.

The New York Post on its April 18 front page showed two men, and said they were being sought by the authorities. The two were not the ones being sought as suspects. They were a 17-year-old boy and his track coach. The boy, from Revere, Massachusetts, turned himself over to the police immediately and was cleared after a 20-minute interview in which they advised him to deactivate his Facebook account. New York Post editor Col Allan stated, “We stand by our story. The image was emailed to law enforcement agencies yesterday afternoon seeking information about these men, as our story reported. We did not identify them as suspects.” The two were implied to be possible suspects via crowdsourcing on the websites Reddit and 4chan.

Several other people were mistakenly identified as suspects. Among those wrongly identified as suspects on Reddit were a 17-year-old athletics star and Sunil Tripathi, a Brown University student missing since March. Tripathi was found dead on April 23 in the Providence River.

On April 17, the FBI released the following statement:

Contrary to widespread reporting, no arrest has been made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack. Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate. Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.

The decision to release the photos of the Tsarnaev brothers was made in part to limit damage done to those misidentified on the Internet and by the media, and to address concerns over maintaining control of the manhunt.

BBC News reported that the initial announcements from the authorities had been praised for using language “with care and deliberation” to avoid victimization of religious minorities, but that some commentary on social network sites indicated “a xenophobic undercurrent in the American response to the tragedy”.



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