Boston bombing: Students in mourning as university city comes to terms with tragedy

Chinese student was one of the three killed

Boston

The thousands of students who travel across the country, and the world, to attend the 50 universities and colleges dotted around the Boston metropolitan area every year were mourning the loss of one of their own, a Chinese graduate student who perished in the twin bombings that brought the city’s annual marathon to a bloody end on Monday.

A post on a Chinese micro-blogging website showing a piece of bread and a fruit salad – “My wonderful breakfast” – was one of the slain Boston University student’s last acts. For their family in faraway Shenyang in northeastern China, the first sign of what turned out to be tragedy was an anxious appeal on the same micro-blogging service by the victim’s roommate.

“Everyone please help me find my roommate,” said the post on Weibo, the Chinese version of twitter, according to a Hong Kong television station. “She hasn’t come home and... everyone is very worried.”

At the family’s request, the authorities in the US and in China have declined to identify the student, who was among the dead and injured remembered at a gathering organised by the city’s Emerson College at the ornate, Beaux Arts-style Cutler Majestic theatre, a few blocks west of the blast site near the finish line on Boylston Street, on the other side of town from Boston University.

Seven Emerson students were among more than 170 people injured by the blasts. From the wider Boston area student body of nearly 400,000, three students from Tufts, three from Northeastern, two from Boston College and one from the Berklee College of Music, which is a short walk up the road from the finish line, were among the wounded.

At Harvard Business School, students and staff mourned the loss of Krystle Campbell, the 29 year-old who was among the three fatalities. A former employee of the school, her mother and brother still work at the university, according to the campus newspaper.

Remembering the injured and the dead, including the youngest victim, eight-year-old Martin Richard, whose toothy smile has been broadcast around the world, Emerson’s spiritual counsellor, Rabbi Al Axelrad, told the students, faculty, staff and alumni assembled inside the Cutler Majestic that he responded first with “weep and empathy,” which soon turned into “rage.”

“May our brothers and sisters persevere, wounded limbs and all,” he said, leading a prayer for the victims.

The college president, Lee Pelton, remembered how Monday began as a “perfect day for a long run,” calling the annual marathon, the world’s oldest, a “charmed pilgrimage” to endurance. “And then in an instant everything changed,” he said.

Jemma, a senior at the college, later recounted how Mr Pelton had spent the afternoon helping to locate and ferry students from around the blast site. “You treated us as daughters that day,” she told the audience, her voice breaking up as she spoke. The head of the student body, Tau Zaman, wiped his eyes as he faced the audience and said: “Emerson, I am so sorry.” 

The night before, hundreds gathered on Marsh Plaza in the Boston University campus, around one-and-a-half miles west of the blast site near Copley Square, to pray for the dead graduate student, and another student who was wounded in the explosions. The two were watching the race along with another friend near the finish line when the explosions ripped through the heart of the city.

“The whole land trembled at the sound,” Larry Whitney, a Boston University chaplain, said, turning, according to the campus paper, to scripture to describe what students near the blast site felt as the two pressure-cooker bombs filled with small ball-bearings went off, wounding and killing on a day when so many students had come out to run and cheer.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea