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Despite attack, Mass. governor says Boston will be open

April 15, 2013|By Alana Semuels, Andrew Tangel and Laura J. Nelson

BOSTON — As residents reel from the bombs that killed three people and injured more than 130 others Monday near the finish line of the city's elite marathon, officials promised that life will go on in this northeastern city—although not as normal.

Residents should expect heightened security in public spaces and on the city's transportation system, including random bag searches, Gov. Deval Patrick said.

Investigators have also blocked off areas near the blast sites along Boylston Street in downtown Boston, where two bombs hundreds of yards apart exploded during the fifth hour of the marathon on Monday afternoon. The area remains an active crime scene, officials said.

“This city of Boston is open and will be open tomorrow, but it will not be not business as usual,” Deval said. “There will be a heightened law enforcement presence.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken over the investigation of what officials called a "very powerful blast." Authorities are approaching the bombs as a criminal investigation and potentially a terrorist investigation, said FBI special agent in charge Richard DesLauriers. He declined to say how many explosive devices the FBI had found.

The blasts came hours into the 117th running of the iconic 26.2-mile race. The bombs exploded along Boylston Street, well after the elite runners had finished but near the time that the bulk of the 27,000 runners were nearing the finish line.

Authorities said they would release information on the three victims Tuesday morning.

Patrick also asked Bostonians to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activities. He and the FBI repeatedly urged the public to call into the city’s tip line with any possible leads.

"That's what Americans do in times of crisis: we come together and help one another," said Daniel F. Conley, the district attorney for Suffolk County. "Moments like this, as terrible as they are, don't show our weakness. They show our strength."

Dr. Peter Fagenholz, a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, said nurses and doctors rushed Boston to help -- even some who had left the state and had to fly back. “Everybody rose to the occasion,” Fagenholz said. “When this happens, we just go to work."

Speaking at an evening news conference, Fagenholz said his facility had seen 29 patients, eight of which were in critical condition. The patients, Fagenholz said, included “several” amputees.

“I’ve never seen this volume of patients coming in this quickly before,” he said.

Fagehnolz said the hospital received three patients with severe injuries to their lower bodies in the first five minutes. “That’s when it became clear to us that it was going to be a busy day,” he said.

Officials declined to comment on the number or type of explosive devices found at the event, although Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said that it was a "powerful blast and there were serious, serious injuries."

Police are going through other packages at the scene, and are getting reports of other packages. So far they have not located other devices, he said.

“I am not prepared to say we are at ease at this point in time," Davis said. "We are still very actively pursuing every lead that we have."

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House homeland security committee, decried the bombing in a statement issued Monday.

“In my judgment this has all the hallmarks of an act of terrorism, but we do not know for sure who did it,” McCaul said. "...I am certain that whoever is responsible will be held accountable. I would urge the American people to remain calm but vigilant. Today's events are a stark reminder that our enemies continue to plot against us."

Semuels and Tangel reported from Boston, Nelson from Los Angeles. Brian Bennett in Washington and Christine Mai-Duc in Los Angeles contributed.

alana.semuels@latimes.com

andrew.tangel@latimes.com

laura.nelson@latimes.com

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