The Wall Street Journal: FBI Returns Boston Marathon Bombing Site to City

April 22nd, 2013

By BEN KESLIN G | The Wall Street Journal | wsj.com | April 22, 2013

BOSTON – A week after the Boston Marathon bombings, the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday returned control of the crime scene to the city, as local businesses and Bostonians tried to return to normalcy.

Mayor Thomas Menino earlier announced a five-point plan to open much of the Back Bay neighborhood a week after two bombs killed three people and injured more than 170 last Monday near the marathon finish line. Authorities had cut off access to street and pedestrian traffic to a large swath of the area near Copley Square after the bombings, citing the needs of the investigation and possible contamination.

The FBI late Monday afternoon presented Mayor Menino with an American flag that had been flying at half-staff over the finish line.

The move came on the same day that authorities said that the surviving accused bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19 years old, had been charged in federal court in connection with the attack. Mr. Tsarnaev's brother, Tamerlan, was killed Friday morning in a confrontation with police.

All morning, federal investigators worked at the crime scene as the city enjoyed the warm, breezy weather a few hundred feet from the roped-off area. New Englanders drank coffee at Starbucks, construction crews noisily cut into asphalt for routine road work and a mailman walked his route, bag full of letters.

Passersby stopped to look at the makeshift memorials of teddy bears, flowers and handwritten notes at major intersections where barricades blocked off entrance to the closed street.
"I'm perfectly happy to make a few block detour," said Colin Motley, a 25-year-old financial worker with an office in the John Hancock Tower, near Copley Square, as he hustled down a street adjacent to closed-off Boylston Street on Monday morning even as rubber-gloved investigators gathered evidence.

Red Cross employees squinted in the sun as they passed out fliers that say, "Helping young children cope with trauma," and television camera crews interviewed passers-by. Children with backpacks weaved through the crowd, returning to school after a week-long break, complaining about the hassle of detours around closed streets.

Four former U.S. Marines, all amputees, walked downtown in shorts, their athletic shoes and prosthetic legs prominently displayed. People thanked them for their service, shook their hands and asked for photos with them. A woman in a pink shirt told them how much their presence following this tragic event meant to her and the city. "Thanks for being here for us," one woman in a marathon T-shirt told them.

The Marines are part of the Semper Fi Fund, a nonprofit group that works to help with financial support for critically ill and injured service members. They flew to Boston over the weekend from different parts of the U.S. and visited four hospitals in the area to meet with victims who lost limbs in the bombing.

"They were all in good spirits. They've got a lot of support," said Gabriel Martinez, a 24-year-old former USMC sergeant and double amputee who served with the 6th Marine Regiment." He said the biggest help for him while he was in the hospital recovering was "seeing other people" who had similar injuries. That motivated him to come to Boston.

A block down in the City Sports shop that looks out onto Boylston Street and a stretch of road close to the finish line, customers have to wend their way through a back entrance on St. James Avenue to get to the store because the front doors are closed by order of the police.

"Typically marathon week is better than the holidays, marathon stuff always sells well," said store manager Tim MacMillan. Even so, marathon gear is selling a bit more briskly than usual, "but a lot of people don't even know we're open."

Mr. Motley, the man briskly walking to his office, ran in last week's race, he said, and finished in 3 hours, 51 minutes, a quarter hour before the attack. He was in a recovery tent when he heard the explosions. He wasn't harmed. This morning he wore his bright blue and yellow 2013 Boston Marathon jacket over his dress clothes. He said he has worn it every day since last Monday.

"I plan on pretty much living in this for the next few months until it gets too hot to wear it," he said. He kept moving toward his office, undeterred, past a banner hanging from a building on the corner of Berkeley Street and St. James Avenue that said in bold letters, "Boston Doesn't Blink. 2014 Training Starts Today."

Write to Ben Kesling at ben.kesling@wsj.com

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