Boston Marathon bombings: Security was high - so what went wrong?

 

Boston

When Rene Cappas drove his delivery van into downtown Boston on Monday, just hours before the city’s annual marathon was hit by two explosions, he was stopped at a checkpoint and questioned about where he was heading. “They asked me what building I was going to, where I was taking the package, what floor,” he said. Police officers, out in force to patrol the annual event that draws an estimated half a million spectators, also cast an eye inside Mr Cappas’ van.

Harry Flores, who arrived in downtown Boston via public transport, faced no such scrutiny. “There was a lot of security - there is always a lot of security. But I didn’t see any checkpoints,” he said. In contrast, today, with security stepped up across the area in the aftermath of the bombings, his bags were searched as he got on the train.

Other spectators who made their way along the final mile of the marathon also told The Independent that, while they had encountered a significant police presence on Monday, they had not been stopped or their bags searched as they made their way into the heart of the city.

As attention turns to what could have been done to prevent the bombings, and how the security regime might be enhanced in time for next year’s race, the difference between Mr Flores’ and Mr Cappas’ experience on Monday is likely to be among the issues that will be debated among officials.

The security exercise ahead of the event was already vast. In addition to local and state police, authorities had drafted in the support of around 460 members of the Massachusetts National Guard, who were on duty along the marathon route of just over 26 miles (since the explosion, their numbers are reported to have swelled to around 1,000. Many could be seen patrolling downtown Boston today, wearing military-style fatigues and carrying what appeared to be heavy arms).

Meanwhile, before the explosions, bomb detection teams twice swept the race route on Monday, Boston’s Police Commissioner, Ed Davis, said today. Medical tents had been set up, and ambulances were on call.

Will Lachabel, a local taxi driver, said the police presence was visible weeks before the event. “There was heavy security. Its an important area where it [the explosions] happened. All the big hotels and offices are there,” he said. Mr Lachabel said his cab had been stopped and checked by officers only days before the marathon.

David Black, who participated in the race, and was about a kilometre away from the finish line when the first explosion occurred, also spoke of the heavy police presence in the city when he arrived to take part from Detroit a couple of days ago. “Hindsight is 20-20,” he said. “But I don’t fault them [the authorities] for not doing enough. There was clearly a lot of security around Boston,” he added. Like Mr Flores, Mr Black, who did not drive while in Boston, did not encounter a checkpoint. “But I felt safe - absolutely.”

Rudi Boosten, a runner from Holland who in the past has participated in other major marathons, including New York’s, and who had just crossed the finish line when the explosions occurred, said the limited screening for people arriving foot was not unusual. “Maybe they’ll do it next year now,” he said.

As with other big public gatherings across the US, and in many other parts of the world, security at the Boston Marathon was beefed up in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 - but Mr Flores, who has been attending the race for decades, said that a lot more would have to be done to restore the sense of security that was shattered on Monday afternoon. “I don’t know what they do - but they will have to do more. I can see all these guns now. They could bring them out earlier, I don’t know.” 

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices