With the nationwide release of Patriots Day set for Friday, January 13, we are solemnly reminded of the horror that bombarded our city almost 4 years ago. The gripping drama captures the horrific events that went down on April 13, 2013 where one of the most widely celebrated days in Boston, quickly turned to horror and disarray, changing Boston forever.
While this tragic event has never been forgotten, it's with the recent Hollywood attention that it takes precedence in the forefront of our minds, once again. And as we remember, we start to question. How could something so horrible happen to our beloved city? Could it have been avoided? Will it happen again? What actually even happened?
These are questions we should be asking, these are things we should be thinking about. Although this tragedy took places years ago, and although many of these questions don't have definite answers, the tragedy remains an undeniably important part of our history and an indisputable representation of Boston's ability to stay strong.
The Basic Breakdown
On April 13, 2013, the annual Boston Marathon began just as it has for the past 17 years - officials swept for bombs, security kept close watch, and people flooded the streets to cheer on their fellow Bostonian runners. But in an instant, everything changed.
Two explosions shocked the city to its core. Blood, dust, shrapnel and fear now consumed a street that just seconds prior was filled with joy and excitement. But the people of Boston were quick to react. Law enforcements and locals alike, rushed to aid the victims as America watched behind their television screens in horror. Shaken, distraught, and deeply saddened; America was awoken, yet again, to the reality of terrorism.
What Happened Exactly?
- At 2:49pm, two improvised pressure cooker bombs detonated as marathoners made their way to the finish line on Boylston Street. The blast took the lives of 3 civilians and injured more than 260 others.
- Three days later, on April 18 at 5:20pm, the FBI released images (and a surveillance video) to the public of the two Chechen brother suspects; 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
- Quickly following the released images, the suspects killed an MIT policeman for his gun (which they couldn't even get because it was locked in the holster retention system).
- The suspects then carjacked an SUV (after spontaneously deciding they would go bomb Times Square), holding the owner hostage and forcing him to take out cash from the ATM. (The hostage was able to escape, but left his cell phone in the car which allowed police to focus their search in the right area.)
- Around midnight on April 19, gunfight was initiated with policeman in Watertown, MA. Multiple officers were injured, but it was one of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev who ultimately lost his life. After being shot several times, Tamerlan met his fate when his brother ran him over with the stolen SUV upon Dzhokhars' hasty escape.
- A manhunt for Dzhokhar went into place, and on the evening of April 19, police were notified by a Watertown resident that the suspect was hiding in his boat in the backyard. (He had noticed the cover was loose and when he looked in, Dzhokhar was lying there in a pool of blood.)
- Police arrived at the scene, where another "shootout" went down for an hour (although Dzhokhar was found to not have any weapons - but had written a note on the side of the boat), until he was taken into custody at 8:42 pm.
- On April 22, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received formal criminal charges from the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts during a bedside hearing at the hospital. After release from the hospital, Tsarnaev was transported to FMC Devens, a federal prison medical facility where he was held in solitary confinement.
- A few months later, on July 10, he publicly pleaded not guilty to 30 charges, initiating a trial that would begin on January 5, 2015 (two months later than originally planned due the incredible amounts of evidence from both sides).
- May 15, 2015 reached a verdict: Tsarnaev was found guilty and would be sentenced to death by lethal injection.
- On June 24, 2015, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev apologized to the victims and received his death sentence.
Among the over 260 people injured, below are the names of 3 spectators who lost their lives during this horrendous event.
- Krystle Marie Campbell, 29, restaurant manager from Medford, MA
- Lu Lingzi, 23, Boston University graduate student from Shenyang, Liaoning
- Martin William Richard, 8, beloved son from Dorchester
These are the two policemen who were fatally wounded from the shootouts.
- Sean A. Collier, 27, MIT police officer
- Dennis Simmonds, Boston Police Officer (died later from injuries sustained in the shootings)
The Initial Impact & Reactions
Aside from the applaudable reaction of first responders, public officials, and ordinary citizens at the actual bombing scene, Boston proved its resilience in the months following the event. Memorials sprouted throughout the city, interfaith memorial services were held, the president spoke, and The Red Sox paid tribute. Just 24 hours after the bombings occurred, an official nonprofit was filed (Boston One Fun) to raise money for the victims and their families.
While the despicable event might have broken our hearts, it could never break our city. David Ortiz couldn't have said it better,
“This jersey that we wear today doesn’t say ‘Red Sox’. It says ‘Boston’. This is our fucking city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom!”
Why It’s Still Relevant And Why You Should Still Care
The Boston Marathon bombing is, and always will be, relevant. It's not only a reminder that terrorism is real and that as a country we need to work together to do whatever we can to prevent an act like this from happening again - but, it is also a significant and constant reminder that something like this cannot tear us apart. The victims of this tragic event could have been any one of us. They lost their lives because they were out there doing what we, as Bostonians, do best - supporting each other. And this is something we must continue to do.
If there is only one thing you must take away about the Boston marathon bombings, it's this: no matter what happens to this city, no matter what terror we must face, no matter what disaster we must overcome, "We are one. We are strong. We are Boston. We are Boston strong."