Wake Forest Students Shocked by Boston Marathon bombings

By Austin Cook, Assistant News Editor

Tragedy struck the city of Boston April 15 when two explosive devices were detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The bombs exploded around 2:50 p.m. and were set off within seconds of each other, killing at least three people and injuring more than 125 others, according to The Boston Globe.

The blasts occurred roughly two hours after the first runners crossed the finish line, while thousands of participants were still running. More than an hour later, a third explosion rocked Boston's JFK Library, approximately five miles away from the finish line. It was later confirmed that that blast was caused by a fire that broke out inside the building, unrelated to the initial explosions.

The group or individuals responsible for Monday's attack remain unknown, and Boston Police have confirmed that there was no prior threat or warning that an attack was possible. The FBI is treating the incident as a terrorist act, although it is still unclear whether the group responsible was foreign or domestic. An anonymous White House official said bombing was "clearly an act of terror, and will be approached as an act of terror."

Student reaction to the attack was overwhelming. Kristen Young, a junior from Boston whose brothers both live there, was horrified upon hearing the news. "I was initially panicked when I heard about it because several of my closest friends go to school in Boston and both of my brothers live downtown," Young said.

After texting her friends to make sure they were safe, she learned that one had been at the site of the explosion just five minutes before it took place. "She explained that everyone was screaming and telling her to hide," Young said of her friend. "It's so scary to think that one of my best friends could have been a victim of the bombing had she not left the area. These types of events really make you appreciate what you have and all of the loved ones around you."

Junior James Mullally felt similar panic when he learned about the bombing. "For once, it was my friends and family I was calling frantically, and my streets that were burning. This situation is painful, but I've seen some hope in spite of it all. Boston is a strong city -- in its people and its spirit," Mullally said.

Junior Jenny Magruder, another native of Boston, expressed her sadness that an attack like this could be possible at such an uplifting event. "[The Boston Marathon] is an event that brings people together from all over the world, and the fact that someone could cause such destruction at an event that emphasizes global unity is appalling to me," Magruder said.

Afton Garrett, a freshman at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said that as more details emerged, the events that transpired just minutes from her apartment grew more surreal. "It was like the more information that came the more surreal it got," Garrett said. "The only thing I could think about was contacting everyone I know in the city to make sure they were safe."

Caitlin Bailey, another freshman who attends Emerson College in downtown Boston, was only blocks away from the finish line when the bombs were detonated. "It was definitely terrifying on a personal level ... I was only a few blocks away when the bombs exploded, getting ready to walk down to the finish line with a friend," Bailey recalled. In spite of the sadness, she expressed a great deal of pride at the Boston Police's handling of the chaotic situation. "The Boston Police Department and Boston citizens have made me really proud to live in this city today," she said.

While details regarding those injured in the blast remain scarce, it is now known that families of the victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December were being honored at the marathon this year; those in attendance were seated in the VIP stands close to the finish line. Before the race began, a 26-second moment of silence was recognized for the lives lost in the Newtown shooting. There is still no word on whether or not any of the families were among the injured after the blast.

Yet even in the face of such heart wrenching tragedy, there were signs of hope along the last stretch of the marathon Monday. The NBC Sports Network tweeted about runners approaching the finish line after the explosion who not only completed the race, but kept running to Massachusetts General Hospital to donate blood to the victims.

Equally heartening news of first responders who ran into the blast zone to help the wounded was also reported via social media.

In a live address to the nation on the evening of April 15, President Barack Obama expressed sadness at tragedy, but also vowed that the perpetrators behind the attack will be brought to justice. "We will find out who did this, and we will hold them accountable," Obama said. "The American people will say a prayer for Boston tonight."