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Mass. Gov. Patrick Looks Back On Boston Bombing 1 Year Ago


At 2:49 p.m. one year ago today, this was the scene at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.




GREENE: Two bombs exploded within seconds of each other. Three spectators were killed, hundreds more injured. It was a scene of chaos and carnage. Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick helped lead the response to the attack. A year later, we spoke to him about Boston's path to recovery. We began by asking when he first heard about the attack.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: I was driving to go home when our youngest daughter called from down in the Back Bay, not far from the finish; to say that there had been a loud bang and everybody was running, and did I know what was happening. And I told her no, I didn't, but I'd find out. And a couple of minutes later, I got a call from the head of State Emergency Services, who was down in the medical tent right near the finish line when the first bomb went off.

GREENE: I'm still struck by the fact that you got this news first from your own daughter.

PATRICK: How about that? Of course, she didn't know what news she was giving. My first reaction was to say it was probably some sort of celebratory cannon that had gone off and - but, yeah. It was a grisly scene, of course, at the finish line. It was just a lot of chaos and confusion. And I will say that all of us came together to show these acts of kindness and grace, and I still think had so much to do with why we're stronger today.

GREENE: Is there an image that sticks with you, when it comes to the way citizens responded?

PATRICK: When the race first ended, people miles back didn't know. And there were folks who came out of their homes along the routes and took runners in and cooled them down and gave them drink and ultimately, helped them find their family members who were miles back, waiting for them to finish. The other thing that sticks with me is, I met people in the hospital who, it turns out, I knew from other settings including the Richard family, whose 8-year-old son, Martin, perished. And they reminded me that at 2 years old, they have a picture of Martin holding a campaign sign, in my first campaign for governor. And just there's so many ways in which it was exposed that we were much, much more intimately connected to each other than we may have appreciated.

GREENE: I wanted to ask you to give us a sense of where some of these families are in the recovery. How is the Richard family doing now?

PATRICK: They're extraordinary. They have organized a foundation to support a number of people who are running in Martin's memory. And, you know, at the same time, there are these marvelously triumphant survivors who had just unspeakable horrors in their lives, on account of the marathon bombings. There are also survivors who aren't fully healed, who aren't ready to be back down at the scene. We're trying to be sensitive to them, too, and listen hard to them and make a way for them to participate that is comfortable.

GREENE: This deadly attack, Governor, gave way to what would become an unbelievable manhunt that lasted several days. I remember being struck by this large American city in lockdown. Can you take us behind the scenes and tell us something we might not know from that day?

PATRICK: Well, David, you know, it's interesting, I've heard this term lockdown. That's not exactly what happened. Nobody was ordered to stay inside. I asked people to stay inside. And it didn't start there, as you may know. Right after the shootout in Watertown, I asked the question, how much time had elapsed between when the suspect had escaped and the neighborhood had been cordoned off by the police. And I was told it was an hour, an hour and a half. And I said, well, listen, suppose he's outside that perimeter right now? How far could he get? And we made the decision then to ask people to stay in place - to shelter in place, so called - in those immediate neighboring communities.

And the reason for that was that we didn't know what condition the surviving brother was in, and how much weaponry he had on him. Between the time we made that decision and we were prepared to announce it, we learned about a lot of other breaking events. And there was so much happening - or that appeared to be happening, that we expanded the shelter-in-place request to all of Boston and really, suspended our transit service.

GREENE: As you look back, do you worry at all that there was an overreaction, and that perhaps you were creating exactly what a terrorist is going for - images of scores of people in a community, afraid and panicked?

PATRICK: I'd be concerned about that if it had been an indefinite sort of thing. We knew that we couldn't ask people to stay indoors indefinitely. And we also made the judgment mid-day that we would end this request by the time the house-to-house search in Watertown finished, one way or another; and we did.

GREENE: So as you get ready for this next marathon, is the idea in your head, sort of as you look for the balance, how much security, how careful to be? You want to make sure that you're not lending the impression that the terrorists won somehow?

PATRICK: I think your use of the term balance, David, is exactly what we're going for. This is a large, important, civic ritual, and it's going to be even bigger than in the past. And there will be a lot of law enforcement presence, but not so much as to feel like we have changed the character of the event. And that's a balance we're going for, and I'm pretty confident we're going to strike it.

GREENE: Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick. Thanks very much for your time. I appreciate it.

PATRICK: Thanks for having me, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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