UK student among runners at Boston Marathon


Emergency personnel assist the victims at the scene of a bomb blast during the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts, Monday, April 15, 2013. (Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald/MCT)


By Amelia Orwick | @KyKernel

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A UK student had finished running the Boston Marathon on Monday before two explosions occurred along the route, in what is being treated as an act of terrorism by White House officials.

The incidents resulted in 3 casualties and more than 130 injuries, the Associated Press reported Monday night.

The explosions took place around 2:50 p.m. along Boylston Street near the finish line, 50-100 yards apart, Ed Davis, the Boston police commissioner, told the AP.

According to the Boston Athletic Association’s website, 120 Kentuckians were registered for the marathon, including Brian Hancock, an English senior at UK.

Hancock finished the marathon about an hour before the incident and witnessed it from his hotel room a few blocks away.

“I had heard two loud booms a few seconds apart, and looked out the window to see smoke rising and people running,” Hancock said. “A few seconds later I heard sirens, as well. I wasn’t sure what had happened so I just turned on the local news and soon found out.”

Hancock said that a family friend who traveled to Boston to watch him race was standing at the finish line.

“He said they physically shook him, and chaos ensued,” Hancock said. “He and others knocked over the barriers and ran into the street away from the blasts. He didn’t personally see injuries, but he felt like at the time it was too loud and destructive to be an accidental explosion.”

Andrea Malji, a Ph.D. candidate who teaches a course titled “Terrorism and Political Violence” at UK, agrees that the event was likely a terrorist attack.

According to Malji, there are several factors to look for in determining whether an attack is terroristic, including a political motive, civilian targets, influence of a broad audience and premeditation. All of these factors were present, Malji said.

The simultaneous manner in which the bombs were detonated is characteristic of Al-Qaeda attacks, according to Malji. However, other factors led her to speculate about the possibility of another suspect group.

Malji found it ironic that April 15 is Patriot’s Day, and also the deadline to file taxes with the IRS. Boston is also the location of the historical Boston Tea Party, an event that protested the unfair taxation of American citizens.

“All three of these factors made me wonder if it could be a far Right-Wing group,” Malji said.

In an address from the White House, President Barack Obama said, “We will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable.”

As of around 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Hancock said that about a square mile around the scene was roped off.

Davis urged Boston citizens to return to their homes and hotels until further notice.

“I feel like Boston has handled everything appropriately post-incident,” Hancock said. “All bags that were left at the scene were checked by the local authorities. There are police officers and SWAT team members on every corner right now.”

Malji said that increased security is to be expected as a result of the event.

“Whenever these attacks happen where there are large congregations, you’re going to see heightened security,” she said.

Some students have expressed concern over the possibility of a similar event occurring during the Kentucky Derby Festival events taking place early next month.

“I think it’s natural to have worrisome thoughts about any kind of big gatherings so close to this happening,” Hancock said. “I hate that these kinds of events are almost becoming regular, and I wouldn’t blame a person for not wanting to attend Derby because of this.”

Kim Schroer, a Kentucky native who attends Boston College, shared Hancock’s feelings about the unfortunate nature of the event.

“This is a holiday for us. To have complete excitement and happiness switch to terror and shock is just awful. It’s one of the worst feelings in the world,” she said. “The only thing we could think about is whether the close friends we had just cheered on as they passed us at mile 21 were okay.”