Police Continue Investigation into Marathon Bombs

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Local Runner Sarkis Chekijian Finishes Race Safely

BOSTON (Combined sources) — President Barack Obama called the Boston Marathon bombings an “act of terror” on Tuesday and investigators said no additional explosive devices have been found other than two that detonated near the finish line, a development that could complicate the case.

Law enforcement officials, who asked the public to turn over any photos or video of Monday’s marathon and the blasts, did not disclose any possible leads in the investigation. No one has been arrested, police said.

Current and former counter-terrorism officials said that the Boston bombs were built using pressure cookers as the superstructure, black powder or gunpowder as the explosive and ball bearings as additional shrapnel. The officials said that instructions on how to design such bombs are available on the Internet.

Obama, in an appearance in the White House briefing room, said it was not yet clear who carried out Monday’s twin blasts that killed three people and sent 176 to hospitals with injuries, 17 critical.

“Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror,” Obama said. “What we don’t yet know, however, is who carried out this attack or why, whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization — foreign or domestic — or was the act of a malevolent individual.”

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Dispelling earlier reports of as many as seven devices being found around Boston, Gene Marquez, assistant special agent in charge for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said authorities had determined that the only bombs deployed in the attack were the two that detonated shortly before 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) on Monday.

Any unexploded device might have provided a clearer picture of what materials were used and how the bomb was assembled, furnishing leads in the case.

Meanwhile, a stretch of Boylston Street near the race’s finish line, where the blasts occurred, and the blocks around it were closed to traffic as police searched for evidence.

A banner that had marked the finish line still hung over the deserted street.

Trauma surgeons at several Boston hospitals said at press briefings the majority of victims suffered lower-body injuries, and several had a range of metallic shrapnel material removed during surgery, including pellets and what appeared to be carpenter nails.

“The vast majority of the injuries were to lower extremities, including some victims who had parts of their legs blown off,” said Dr. Tracey Dechert, a trauma surgeon at Boston Medical Center, which treated 23 people and performed amputations on five of them.

The inclusion of material such as nails in the device would be reminiscent of the 1996 bombing at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, which killed two people and injured about 150 others. Anti-abortion activist Eric Rudolph, who eluded capture for years, pleaded guilty to the attack and is currently serving consecutive life sentences.

An 8-year-old boy was among the dead. He was identified as Martin Richard in a statement issued by his father, Bill Richard.

This year, as in the past couple of years, Armenains paid close attention to the Boston Marathon, as one local runner, Sarkis Chekijian, ran to raise funds for Dana-Farber, partnering with Gabriel Aljalian, a young cancer survivor.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who helped make yesterday a great success.  I say success because even though the horrific events of the afternoon are taking all of our attention, I want to focus on the positive.  With the help of many people generously donating, my efforts this year raised over $24,000 for Dana-Farber. This is a great success.  All of this was done in honor of Gabriel Aljalian who had a WONDERFUL day cheering on runners as he waited for me to run by.  To know that this day and our partnership have brightened the spirits of that little boy, that is a success.

The explosion missed Chekijian narrowly.

“My heart is heavy from what happened [Monday].  I was on Boylston Street two blocks away when the bombs exploded.  My family and loved ones were standing in the spot where the second bomb went off not 10 minutes prior.  Gabriel, Yeretzgin Natasha and Der Arakel [Aljalian] were on their way there but never made it.  To think, had I been slower and the timeline had been shifted what could have been.  Thank God that wasn’t the case.  Thank God all of us were spared the horror of injury.  I was caught in the chaos of it all for about a few hours, not knowing what was going on and desperately trying to get off the streets.    It was a frightening time, needless to say.  I am desperately sad for those who were not as lucky as my family and my prayers go out to them.”
He was optimistic about the race next year. He said, “I cannot wait to get back on this course and run Boston 2014.  If anything this tragedy has strengthened my resolve.  I will run again and I will do it as a member of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team.  I will run in honor of Gabriel and in memory of my grandfathers.  I will raise money for cancer research.  And I will be successful in doing so.”

President Serge Sargisian issued a letter of condolence to Obama. He condemned the crime and offered deep condolences to Obama, the families of those killed and the American people in general, wishing speedy recovery to those injured, the presidential press services reported.

(Reporting from Alin K. Gregorian as well as Reuters and PanArmenian.net were used in compiling this story.)

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