Boston Marathon Bombers Found, Motives Sought

Boston Marathon Bombers Found, Motives Sought

April 23, 2013

Various colleges in the Boston area responded cautiously to the bombings at the city's marathon on April 15, which killed three people and injured over 170 others. Chinese graduate student Lingzi Lu of Boston University was among those killed. A number of other students were hurt, including one at BU who was critically injured and two spectators at Tufts University who sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Emerson College reported that seven of its students were injured. Many other colleges released press statements reassuring friends and family that their students involved in the marathon were safe. Students at BU were asked to remain in their residence halls the night of the bombings and police provided extra security on campus. The University of Massachusetts at Boston closed that night as a "precautionary measure" due to a possible incendiary device at a campus library.

On April 19, students, faculty, and staff at Boston colleges were warned to stay indoors as campuses closed for a manhunt for one of the suspects in the bombings. The suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, was found hiding in a boat stored in a backyard in Watertown, MA, and taken into custody. He is hospitalized and has been charged by the U.S. Justice Department with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, potentially a capital crime, and with destruction of property by explosive device causing death. The other suspect, his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan, was killed earlier that morning during a shootout with the police.

The previous night, April 18, the brothers had killed campus a police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sean A. Collier, who was sitting in his patrol car on the campus. Tamerlan had been a part-time student at Bunker Hill Community College a few years ago. Dzokhar was enrolled at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He also worked off and on as a lifeguard at Harvard University. After confirming that Dzokhar was a student at the Dartmouth campus, the campus was evacuated so police could investigate.

Tsarnaev is a U.S. citizen, brought to the U.S. as a child from the troubled Russian region of Chechnya. That he is, and his brother was, Muslim has sparked concern among Muslim students, who fear potential consequences in terms of facing more fear and prejudice from others.

Following the bombings, colleges and universities across the country are revisiting their security measures to ensure safety and major sporting and other events. Pennsylvania State University announced on April 16 that no bags, umbrellas, footballs, or purses would be allowed inside any campus venues hosting events, including the football stadium, for the school's annual "Blue-White Weekend," which includes a carnival, football scrimmage, and 20 other events. Police said they would also increase surveillance and security sweeps.

Since September 11 and in the wake of multiple campus shootings, most colleges have emergency response plans and conduct risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities. "Does that mean something still can't happen? No, it doesn't because there's no way we can anticipate every single threat that might take place," said Michelle Majewski, dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Marian University and editor of the Journal of Homeland Security Education. "It's a reminder that we all need to pay attention to this and we need to have plans in place, we need to practice those plans, and we have to have exceptional communication. That's key when an event like this unfolds - really well-thought-out communication plans are essential."

 


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Student Safety