BOSTON, Mass. (KPIX/KCBS/AP/BCN) — Two bombs exploded near the crowded finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing at least three people and injuring over 140 others in a terrifying scene of broken glass, smoke and severed limbs at the world’s oldest and most prestigious marathon, race organizers and police said.
A 12-year-old Bay Area boy was among those injured, family and friends confirmed to KPIX 5 on Monday night. The boy, whose mother Katherine Hern of Martinez was running in the race, suffered a non-life threatening shrapnel wound to one of his legs and underwent surgery at a Boston hospital.
In a posting on Facebook, Katherine Hern said Aaron was in the ICU but in stable condition late Monday night. Hern said Aaron would have additional surgeries and is expected to be hospitalized for 7-10 days.
Meantime, an elite Bay Area runner who was one of the top finishers in the race was safe and on lockdown at a hotel near the finish line that he went into to grab a snack and recover from 26.2-mile course.
Daniel Tapia, 26, of Castroville in Monterey County, said he heard what sounded like a loud pop outside the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel just before 3 p.m. Boston time.
“Honestly I thought it was something misfired, not something done on purpose by somebody else to hurt somebody,” Tapia said in a phone interview with KCBS All News 740 AM & FM 106.9.
Tapia, who placed ninth, said a medical tent had been set up in front of the hotel and he had heard about severe injuries from participants and observers to the marathon. Tapia was among 23,000 runners from around the world who took part in the race, which winds up near Copley Square.
There was no word on the motive or who may have launched the terror attack, but sources told CBS News that a Saudi national seen “acting suspiciously” and running from the explosion scene was being questioned by the FBI, which took charge of the investigation. Authorities were also reviewing surveillance video that showed a man from behind carrying two backpacks near the site of the explosions – but they were not sure whether the subject in the video was linked to the blasts.
The twin blasts at the race took place almost simultaneously and about 100 yards apart, tearing limbs off numerous people, knocking spectators and runners off their feet, shattering windows and sending smoke rising over the street.
Berkeley resident Lucretia Ausse, 54, was about to receive her medal after finishing the race in just over four hours when she heard the first explosion and saw a plume of smoke. About 10 seconds later, she heard the second blast.
“I thought it was a water cannon, which I thought that was odd,” she said, but then soon realized something serious was happening. “There was definitely fear and panic in the crowd.”
The attack may have been timed for maximum carnage: The four-hour mark is typically a crowded time near the finish line because of the slow-but-steady recreational runners completing the race and because of all the friends and relatives clustered around to cheer them on. At the time of the blast, more than 17,000 of the athletes had already finished, but thousands more were still running.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis asked people to stay indoors or go back to their hotel rooms and avoid crowds as bomb squads methodically swept the entire length of the marathon route to look for any additional devices or evidence to be found.
“I haven’t left the room that I’m in,” said Tapia. “My hotel is right across the street from the finish line. I’m with my mom, dad and sister and we’re supposed to leave tomorrow to fly into San Francisco to go to Monterey where we live, but at this point we would like to get a little bit farther away.”
As many as two un-exploded bombs were also found near the end of the race course as part of what appeared to be a well-coordinated attack, but they were safely disarmed, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation.
President Barack Obama told the nation in a nationally televised address from the White House that while the U.S. did yet not know “who did this or why,” whoever was responsible “will feel the full weight of justice.”
“We will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable,” he said.
With scant official information to guide them, Bay Area members of Congress said there was little or no doubt it was an act of terrorism.
“My understanding is that it’s a terrorist incident,” U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California told reporters, saying she had been in contact with U.S. intelligence agencies. “We don’t know whether it was homegrown or a foreign perpetrator.”
Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said intelligence officials reported no advance warning that “there was an attack on the way.”
U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, echoed the president’s words by saying, “we will ensure that justice will be done.”
A few miles away from the marathon’s finish line and around the same time as the explosions, a fire broke out at the John F. Kennedy Library, but the police commissioner said it didn’t appear to be related to the bombings and no one was hurt.
One of Boston’s biggest annual events, the Boston Marathon is held on Patriots Day, which commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution, at Concord and Lexington in 1775.
(Copyright 2013 CBS San Francisco, the Associated Press and Bay City News Service. CBS News contributed to this report. All rights reserved.)