College increases security after bombing forces abrupt end to Boston Marathon

by Ryan Catalani / Beacon Staff and Jackie Tempera / Beacon Staff • April 15, 2013

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Mass. governor Deval Patrick, and other federal, state, and local officials, said the investigation about the bombings is ongoing.
Mass. governor Deval Patrick, and other federal, state, and local officials, said the investigation about the bombings is ongoing.

BREAKING: In an email to the Emerson community at 10:52 p.m., the college announced that it will be closed tomorrow. 

Security at Emerson and across Boston will be heightened tomorrow, as classes will be cancelled after two explosive devices were detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon, less than a mile from the college.

A campuswide lockdown following the blasts will remain in effect until 7 a.m. Tuesday. Throughout the day tomorrow, according to Emerson President M. Lee Pelton, students will be required to present a college ID before entering any on-campus building, and bags will be randomly checked. Emerson College Police Officers will be stationed outside all of the residence halls tonight and tomorrow, he said.

At a 9 p.m. press conference, state and local officials increased the death toll to three, but they were not yet ready to state the exact number of people injured, or the extent of their injuries. According to The Boston Globe, there are at least 140 hurt.

Pelton said he visited seven injured Emerson students at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center earlier today. All of the students suffered from temporary hearing loss, said Pelton. Other injuries included lacerations from shards of glass, minor bruising, and scrapes; one student has a perforated eardrum.

Andrew Tiedemann, vice president of public affairs, wrote in an email that all seven students have been released from the hospital.

Pelton visited residence halls Monday night to speak with students and urge them to stay near campus tomorrow.

“I’ve been out in the city—not a place you want to go to right now,” he said.

Governor Deval Patrick said the investigation into the explosion is active and ongoing, and that the area from Berkeley Street to Massachusetts Avenue north of Newbury Street and south to Huntington Avenue is blocked off, and marked as a crime scene. He said those riding public transportation tomorrow should expect random checks of backpacks and bags. The Copley Square station, according to the MBTA, will remain closed.

“We are all coming together to do everything we can to get to the bottom of this,” Patrick said.

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis reiterated Patrick’s remarks, and said officers will be working overnight and into tomorrow.

“This cowardly act will not be taken in stride,” Davis said at the press conference. “We will turn every rock over to find who is responsible for this.”

Officials have not confirmed whether the attack was an act of terrorism. Davis said the police are in the process of examining abandoned property from the Boylston St. area. There have been various reports of suspicious packages, but Davis said these were to be expected after an event like this.

“I am not prepared to say we are at ease at this time,” he said.

Emerson announced via email, text messages, and phone calls at approximately 4 p.m. that the campus was on lockdown. Counseling staff members were available this evening in the residence halls.

Glass windows in buildings near the finish line at Copley Square were blown in during the incident as hundreds of spectators fled toward back alleys, escaping the smoke-filled Boylston Street at 2:50 p.m.

In the moments after the explosions, confusion and tears were rampant. Groups huddled together, parents carried their crying children, and people quickly tapped at their phones.

The response from emergency officials was immediate, as officers forced lingering crowds farther and farther from the finish line, and swiftly fortified barriers for blocks.

By nightfall, Boylston Street was deserted—devoid of both pedestrians and cars—with banana peels and discarded water bottles strewn across the pavement. Around a hundred bags stuffed with runners’ possessions remained unclaimed in front of a medical tent on Berkeley Street.

After Pelton’s briefing, one student asked how Emerson students can help.

“Talk to each other and be understanding of each other without being intrusive,” he said. “Individuals deal with stress differently, but being together tends to help.”

Junior Marissa MacDonald said she was at the finish line a few hours before the explosion.

“It was supposed to be a really happy day,” said the visual and media arts major. “But thinking about how I was standing at the exact spot three hours earlier is horrifying.”

Brittany Gervais, Beacon Staff, contributed to this report.