Boston bombings affect MU community

In this image from video provided by WBZ TV, spectators and runners run from what was described as twin explosions that shook the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Monday, April 15, 2013, in Boston.  Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/WBZTV)
In this image from video provided by WBZ TV, spectators and runners run from what was described as twin explosions that shook the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Monday, April 15, 2013, in Boston. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/WBZTV)

By Sarah Hauer, Andrew Phillips and Pat Simonaitis

Two blasts near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed at least three people and injured more than 140 Monday afternoon, including one Marquette alumnus who was hospitalized and later released following the apparent attack.

At least three current Marquette students and one professor were running in the iconic race, which takes place while much of the city shuts down to celebrate Patriots’ Day. Many more people with local connections were in the area celebrating the Bostonian holiday.

Michael Cote, a 2011 alumnus who lives in Boston, said he was standing near the location of the second explosion five to 10 minutes before it went off but had then walked to a bar three blocks away. He said he heard the explosions while at the bar.

“There wasn’t really a panic or any sort of a rush,” Cote said, as sirens sounded in the background. “Everyone was just looking for their family.”

Cote said a friend, 2011 alumnus Justin Maly, was injured and hospitalized after the blasts but had been released Monday evening. Maly did not respond to a request for comment by press time Monday night.

Others witnessed the destruction first hand.

John Pinkham, a 2011 alumnus and Boston native, said he and his girlfriend, 2012 alumna Carolyn Rasley, were watching the marathon from a building facing the finish line when one explosion shattered the building’s windows and smoke billowed into the room.

“We went out through the fire escape in the back of the building, exited into an alley and walked a few streets away,” Pinkham said. “There were people on the ground with blood and a lot of people hurt.”

Pinkham said he and Rasley had been standing in the area near the explosion minutes before it occurred.

“We were walking in and out 20 minutes before, right where the explosion happened,” Pinkham said. “Thank God we got a little cold (and went inside the building).”

Gary Krenz, chairman of the Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science at Marquette, was running in the marathon and told FOX6 Now Milwaukee that he passed the finish line seconds before the explosion.

“Probably 30 seconds or less – something like that,” Krenz said.

Kathy McGurk, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, had finished the race about 40 minutes before the first explosion.

“I finished, and it was such a wonderful moment. It’s so crazy that something could ruin such an incredible event,” McGurk said.

McGurk said after she finished the race, she walked about 1 ½ blocks to the family meeting area, where she met her mom and dad. About a minute after she reunited with her family, the first explosion occurred.

“Everyone turned around and looked back, and all you could see was the smoke,” McGurk said. “You couldn’t see anything.”

She said everyone was confused, and some thought it was a cannon going off for Patriots’ Day.

“Then when the second explosion happened, we knew something was wrong,” McGurk said. “Everyone got really quiet when the second one went off. People were just rushing in fear. All you could hear were ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, from every direction.”

McGurk and her family were escorted by the police back to their hotel, about a half mile away from the finish line. There, her family watched the news and contacted the rest of the family.

McGurk said she was still in a state of shock Monday night.

“You finish something that’s been a goal for so long, and then something happens and just fear,” McGurk said. “I’m still just going through a roller-coaster of emotions.”

McGurk said she will fly back to Milwaukee Tuesday morning.

Matt Hetland, a 2007 alumnus, said he was watching a friend in the marathon when he heard the explosions.

“(It) sounded like cannons, which at first seemed to be for the Patriots’ Day festivities,” he said. “Afterward the area was a zoo.”

Hetland said he was a half-mile from the scene of the bombing and that spectators were giving cell phones to runners to call their families.

Alex Laffey, a Boston native who graduated in December, said he was at a bar near Fenway Park when he heard about the explosions on the news. Laffey said he had walked near the scene of the two explosions by the marathon’s finish line about an hour before the incident.

“There is a lot of panic in the area, and it’s a pretty hostile environment between the police and people,” he said at 3:15 p.m. Monday. “They are extremely suspicious of everyone.”

The Rev. Frederick Zagone, chaplain to Marquette’s Alumni Association, released a statement calling on the Marquette community to pray for the victims and their families.

“In light of the tragic explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the Marquette community is praying for those who have died, those who were injured, their family and friends,” Zagone wrote. “While we have little information at this time regarding how or why this happened, we are reminded that we must pray for peace and pray for an end to senseless violence in our world. Please join us in our prayers.”

President Barack Obama addressed the bombings Monday afternoon, saying officials still did not know who planted the bombs or why but that those individuals will “feel the full weight of justice.”

If you have any information about members of the Marquette community who were affected by the bombings, please contact the Tribune by emailing news@marquettetribune.org or tweeting @mutribune.