New York on high alert after Boston Marathon blasts
New York was on high alert after two back-to-back explosions ripped through the crowd at the Boston Marathon Monday, killing at least three, including an 8-year-old boy, and injuring more than 130 others.
The NYPD dispatched counterterrorism units to major landmarks and tourist hot spots almost immediately after the horrific tragedy, lining the streets of Times Square and other major areas with patrol cars. The MTA also increased patrol coverage and baggage inspections systemwide as a precaution, the agency said.
"The NYPD has stepped up security at strategic locations and critical infrastructure, including our subways. Some of the security steps we are taking may be noticeable, including deployment of Critical Response Vehicles and additional police personnel, and others will not be," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg shortly after the explosions.
"We have 1,000 members of the NYPD assigned to counterterrorism duties, and they -- along with the entire NYPD and the investments we have made in counterterrorism infrastructure -- are being fully mobilized to protect our city," Bloomberg said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo echoed the sentiment and said, "our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston and Massachusetts."
"I have directed state agencies, including the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, State Police, the MTA and the Port Authority, to be on a heightened state of alert as we learn more about this incident," Cuomo added.
Two explosions less than 10 seconds apart tore through the sidelines of the marathon near the finish line around 3 p.m., as runners headed toward the end of one of the world's most famous marathons and one of the biggest days on the Boston calendar.
Officials last night had no suspects in custody or indication of who was behind the blasts, though the Boston Police Department commissioner said they were "questioning many people."
Shortly after the explosions, a fire broke out at the nearby John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, but no one was injured and officials weren't sure whether the events were related.
Matt Borowick, who lives in Crown Heights, was in Boston photographing the marathon and supporting his brother-in-law, who finished the race about an hour before the explosions.
When the enormous booms shook the streets of Boston, Borowick was in his hotel about 15 minutes away, but he rushed to the finish line after seeing news reports of the incident and a "mass" of texts and calls asking whether he was safe.
"People were just walking around. A lot of people were crying, nobody had cellphone service, and everyone was just shocked and confused and wanted to know what was going on," Borowick said, adding that armored cars, police cruisers, SWAT vehicles, Army vehicles and ambulances flooded the streets after the explosions.
"Everybody was trying to figure out where their family and friends were," he said. "And there were still people running the race. This was maybe 20 minutes after the explosion, and people were funneling in but there were people running in the opposite direction telling them to stop," Borowick said.
"It started out as a beautiful day for running," he added. "You can't choose which days this kind of stuff happens."
Lance Svendsen, 28, of Summit, N.J., founded local running group Run Anyway and ran Monday's marathon. He had just crossed the finish line when the first blast went off. He initially thought it was to celebrate finishers, but then the second blast came.
"I thought, 'That's a weird celebration cannon,' but 15 seconds later, another one went off," Svendsen said.
"I found my dad, then I ran back to look for my teammates. They started wheeling the injured," he said. "I saw a lady who didn't look like she made it. I saw another guy being wheeled. I checked on four of my teammates," who were all fine, he said. Still, Svendsen said he is undeterred from entering the upcoming New York City Marathon. The registration for the marathon begins next week and it is scheduled for Nov. 3. Many other local runners also said they would still sign up.
"It's not going to stop me, but it's scary to know that after all that work and training, an event can flip you upside-down," said Frank Ho, 36, of the Lower East Side, who is planning to register for the marathon.
"The events of today will only push me harder," he said. "If anything, more people will come out to show that terrorism cannot defeat them."
(With Sheila Anne Feeney and Anna Sanders)