After two bombs were detonated during the Boston Marathon, one of the country’s largest and longest-standing races, killing at least three people and injuring at least 130, people across the nation, including those at USF, were afflicted as horrific images of bloodied sidewalks, severed limbs and terror-stricken faces spread across the Internet.
According to CNN, at least 144 victims were being treated at nearby hospitals and of which 17 were in critical condition after bombs exploded four hours after the start of the annual race which had more than 23,000 participants.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) took over the investigation of the case after a Boston Police Commissioner said a third bomb was found and was dismantled. A Massachusetts Congressman said two more undetonated devices were found. The verified Twitter account of the Boston Police department said no suspects were in custody.
Of the 51 participants listed as Tampa, St. Pete, Clearwater and Lakeland residents registered as entrants on the Boston Marathon website, none were listed in the USF directory as employees or students.
But some at USF had relatives and friends in the area.
When Louisa Pastorius, a freshman majoring in theater heard the news, she was stricken with fear. Her cousin was running in the race.
“I was praying he was alright,” she said.
Pastorius called her mom to see if she had heard anything. Then she logged onto Facebook.
His wife posted he was fine.
“I was really, really relieved,” Pastorius said. “He finished right before everything happened and was eating a hamburger at the time of the explosions. I’m glad he was well-prepared for the race … I can’t imagine what might have happened if he had been slower.”
But even those who were not directly impacted by the incident were shaken.
Raza Zaidi, a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, said he could not begin to fathom how the victims were faring.
“It breaks my heart,” he said. “I feel like people don’t understand all the effort it takes to raise someone. People put all their heart and effort and soul into raising someone, no matter how old they are. ….To lose an eight-year-old … I wouldn’t wish that upon even my worst of enemies.”
Matt Floyd, a junior majoring in political science, said he was praying for the families of those directly impacted and called the act one of terrorism.
“We haven’t had an attack on our domestic country since 9/11,” he said. “I was definitely shocked (about) the fact that it was at the Boston Marathon and in a city like that.”
John Johannessen, a sophomore majoring in biomedical sciences, said he was angry.
“Whoever did it, and I don’t know who did it, it just shows they’re less of a person to go out and attack people,” he said. “Some people think they’re better than others.”
In a statement made hours after the event, President Barack Obama encouraged people not to “jump to conclusions” about who was behind the attacks, but said “any responsible individuals (and) any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”
Boston Police are encouraging any family members of those still trying to get in touch with individuals who may have been in the area to call (617) 635-4500.
— Jasmine Abney, Divya Kumar, Ariana Matos and Shaunda Wickham contributed to this report.