WHAT HAPPENED? (1)
On April 15, 2013, during the annual Boston Marathon, 2 bombs detonated 14 seconds from one another near the finish line of the race. 3 people were killed, 16 people lost limbs, and over 250 others were injured.
The FBI released images of the suspects 3 days later, who were identified later as brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. They killed a policeman, kidnapped a man in his car, and were in a shootout with police in a nearby town, severely injuring 2 officers, one who died a year later. After the standoff, Tamerlan was shot several times, and his brother ran him over while escaping. Tamerlan died.
A manhunt began and he was eventually caught hiding in a boat in his backyard. During questioning, he said he was following his brother's lead and they were motivated by their extreme Islamist beliefs. He admitted he had also planned to bomb Times Square. He was ultimately sentenced to death.
THE BOMBING AND CASUALTIES
On Patriots' Day, April 15, 2013, runners lined up to compete in the 117th annual Boston Marathon. But sore legs, achy feet and exhaustion became the least of the runners' worries when, at 2:49 PM, 2 bombs detonated at the finish line. The bombs detonated nearly 3 hours after the winning runner crossed the finish line, but nearly 6,000 runners had not finished. (1)
Rescue workers and medical personnel who were there, as is typical for a marathon, jumped in to give aid as police, fire and medical units were dispatched from all over the state. All 3 of the casualties were civilians. The 264 injured runners and watchers were sent to 27 different hospitals, where at least 14 people required amputations, which does not count the people who lost limbs as a direct result of the blast.
No one was certain if another bomb was going to go off. People evacuated as a 15-block area was closed. People had dropped bags and packages as they fled the blast, leading to increased uncertainty as to the possibility of another bomb, and false reports were received throughout the day.
Because of crowded cell lines, text messaging was recommended to contact those in the vicinity. A helpline was set up for concerned relatives or friends to try and find their loved ones.
While most were able to find their loved ones, 3 sets of families and friends were given the horrific news that their loved one didn't make it.
Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant managers, was one of those people. She is remembered as being a "very caring, very loving person". She had gone to the race with her best friend to take a photo of her friend's boyfriend crossing the finish line at the marathon. (2)
Lu Lingzi, a 21-year-old Chinese transfer student, was initially reported missing in the chaos, but was eventually identified. Teachers described her as "particularly smart". She was from Shenyang, but was attending grad school at Boston University. She had convinced her best friend to come with her to the finish line of the race. (3)
The final victim was Martin Richard, an 8-year-old kid who loved to run and climb. The family had gone out for ice cream and joined up at the finish line to watch the race. His mom and younger sister were also severely injured. He is remembered as being a "vivacious" 8-year-old. (4)
THE HUNT FOR THE KILLERS
One of the injured victims, Jeff Bauman who lost both of his legs, told police that he saw the guys with their bags, and a photo was soon found. The FBI released the images of the suspects and asked for the public's help identifying them.
A few hours after the release of the photos, the brothers shot Sean A Collier of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Police Department 6 times while trying to steal his gun. He was killed. The brothers stole a car and held the car's owner hostage. They forced him to use his ATM cards to get $800 in cash. When the brother stopped at a gas station, their hostage ran across the street and called 911 at another gas station. His phone was still in the car, so police were able to better track their movements.
After midnight on April 18, in Watertown, a police officer named Joseph Reynolds identified the brothers, and followed the car while awaiting backup. A gunfight started between the brothers and the backup who had arrived, with an estimated 200 to 300 rounds of ammunition fired. Tamerlan was tackled, and when Dzhokhar got into their stolen car to leave, he ran his brother over. He died at 1:35 AM. Dzhokhar drove the car a few miles and then fled on foot.
The brothers were not identified until police looked into records of their Honda left at the scene. People were told to shelter in place. The town was cornered off, SWAT teams moved through the area, helicopters circled the town, and public transportation was suspended. Universities, schools and businesses were closed as law enforcement went through a door-to-door manhunt for Dzhokhar.
On the evening of April 19, a resident noticed that the tarp on his boat was loose. He saw a body lying inside of it and alerted the authorities, who began to shoot at the boat. He was arrested at 8:42 PM and taken to the hospital with gunshots to his head, neck, legs and hand.
Dzhokhar was interrogated for 16 hours, but stopped communicating after he was read his Miranda warning. During trial, is lawyer argued that while he had placed the bomb and been involved in the carjacking and shootout that he had been under the influence of his older brother and was merely a follower. Prosecutors called more than 90 witnesses, including survivors. The defense only called 4 witnesses.
Dzhokar was found guilty on April 8, 2015 and sentenced to death. He apologized to the victims.
SURVIVORS STAY STRONG (5)
Since the bombing, 31-year-old Rebekah Gregory has divorced, remarried, had a second child, wrote a memoir, and has run the Boston Marathon on a prosthetic leg. Her son, who was 5 at the time, was with her when she lost her leg in the blast, but was safe from physical harm. However, he experienced PTSD from the ordeal. Since the bombing, Rebekah has used the terrifying experience for good: Creating a non-profit that works to provide therapy for children dealing with PTSD.
Boston couple Jessica Kensey and Patrick Downes lost 3 legs between them while watching the marathon shortly after getting married. Since then, they have released a children's book about a girl learning to live with 2 prosthetic legs, and her service dog. They've done this to help shine a light on people with disabilities in media. They have both gone on to complete the Boston Marathon using arm-powered bicycles, and 2 years after, Downes completed the marathon again on a prosthetic running blade, becoming the first amputee to complete the marathon on foot after their attack.
Roseann Sdoia has one of the most heartwarming of stories after the bombing. 5 years after the bombing, she got married to Boston firefighter Mike Materia. She met him the day of the bombing when he rushed to her aid after the bomb, holding her hand all the way to the hospital. She has written a book about her experience at the Boston bombing and meeting her husband there, and tries not to feel sorry for herself and stay positive.
Dave Fortier was participating in his very first marathon, his 13-year-old daughter cheering him on at the finish line. When the bomb went off, his daughter was okay, but he experienced hearing loss, shrapnel damage and PTSD. He has dedicated his life to remembering the victims and survivors by creating the One World Strong organization, a non-profit that connects trauma survivors with one another. The organization has helped connect survivors and families for various traumatic events such as Sandy Hook, the Pulse Nightclub Shooting and the Parkland school shooting.
It is shocking to me that the Boston Marathon bombing was 7 years ago. I feel like I remember it like it was far more recent. But in the years since, like the inspiring stories above, I so clearly remember seeing so many people coming out stronger. People who lost legs running in the marathon again, spectators who nearly died lining up at the finish line again to watch their loved one cross. People have started non-profits, written books and dedicated their lives to different causes because of what they went through.
But, I don't want to take anything away from those who didn't. The news, of course, only shares news. They share that a survivor completed the marathon or started an amazing organization or wrote a bestselling novel. They write about the survivor who met her husband during the chaos. And that is great. Uplifting, beautiful, inspirational stories are great. But there is nothing wrong with not having one.
Some survivors may have gone back to life exactly as it was. Some may have experience PTSD and not turned it into a book or organization, they may just be trying to get through day-by-day. Some may not be able to move past the fact that they are now an amputee or live with other permanent injuries. And all of that is okay, too. Surviving a terrifying ordeal does not have to spark a new or better life. Some of them are just surviving. And that is great, too.