Last week an attack during the Boston Marathon killed three people and wounded more than 180. Here's what you should know about the terrorist bombing incident:

1. On April 15, two bombs exploded, 13 seconds apart, at 2:49 p.m. near the finish line of the marathon; 74 hours and 23 minutes after the bombing, the F.B.I. released the photos of the two terror suspects; 102 hours and 56 minutes after the bombing, both suspects had been apprehended (one dead and one in critical condition).

2. Jeff Bauman, a victim who lost both legs in the attack, was adjacent to the location of one of the bombs. Upon recovering consciousness he asked for pen and paper and wrote a note to the FBI, "bag, saw the guy, looked right at me." Bauman was later able to provide detailed descriptions to the authorities of a suspect who was seen placing a backpack beside him at the bombing scene two and a half minutes before the second bomb exploded, enabling the photo to be identified and circulated quickly. The suspects—initially identified by the FBI as unnamed suspects 1 and 2 (or "black hat" and "white hat," respectively) from photographic and video evidence—had "acted differently" after the explosions; they had stayed to watch the aftermath and walked away "casually," rather than fleeing.

3. Five hours after the release of the photos, the terrorists "assassinated" MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, 26, while he was sitting in his cruiser. The Tsarnaev brothers carjacked a silver Mercedes SUV and forced the owner to use his ATM card to obtain $800 in cash. They released the man after the ATM cash limit was reached, but his cellphone remained in the vehicle, allowing the police to track it.

4. The police tracked the car to Watertown, Massachusetts (located six miles northwest of Boston) where the terrorists opened fire and threw a pressure cooker bomb at the officers. During the extended firefight, in which an estimated 200 shots were fired, a public transit police officer was critically injured. The older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, come out from under cover and started walking down the street toward the police officers. After Tamerlan ran out of ammunition, the officers tackled him and attempted to cuff him. The younger brother, Dzhokar, fled in the SUV and ran over his brother's body, dragging him a short distance down the street, and escaped. Dzhokar got two or three streets away, with officers in pursuit, then dumped the car and ran into the darkness. Tamerlan died in the hospital from his injuries.

5. The manhunt led to an unprecedented lock-down of a major U.S. city. Local authorities told the city and nearby suburbs to "shelter in place" throughout the day and into the evening. Most businesses were closed, schools suspended classes, and all public transportation in the metro area was shut down. Homeland security specialists say such security measures are typically contemplated only in response to attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.

6. After authorities lifted the stay-at-home order on April 19, a Watertown man walked into his backyard and noticed the cords securing the tarp on his boat had been cut. The man lifted the tarp and looked inside the boat and saw Dzhokar lying in a pool of blood. A thermal image photograph taken from a police helicopter also indicated that a person was lying in the center of the boat. Police used "flash-bangs," devices meant to stun people with a loud noise, and started 30 minutes of negotiation with Tsarnaev who turned himself in. Authorities believe Tsarnaev tried to kill himself while in the boat, judging by the gunshot wound to his neck.

7. Tamerlan, who was born in 1986 in Soviet Russia, had attended Bunker Hill Community College but dropped out to become a boxer, with the goal of making the U.S. Olympic team. Dzhokhar, who was born in 1993 in Kyrgyzstan, was, at the time of the bombing, a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, majoring in marine biology. The brothers and their family immigrated in 2002 to the U.S. Dzhokhar became a naturalized citizen on Sept. 11, 2012. Tamerlan's application for citizenship was held up because he had been questioned by the F.B.I.

8. A year before he traveled to Chechnya and Dagestan, F.B.I. agents had questioned Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011 in response to a request from the Russian government. The Russians feared Tamerlan could be a risk, and said their request was based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam. Members of the Homeland Security Committee said Tsarnaev was the fifth man since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to be suspected of committing terrorism while under investigation by the bureau.

9. Along with the the Boston Marathon bombing, several other violent mass casualty attacks in the U.S. have occurred in the third week of April, including: • April 19, 1993 — Branch Davidian massacre (76 killed) • April 19, 1995 — Oklahoma City bombing (168 killed, over 680 wounded) • April 20, 1999 — Columbine High School massacre (15 dead (including perpetrators), 21 injured) • April 16, 2007 — Virginia Tech massacre (32 killed, 17 wounded)  

See also: The Boston Bombers Were Outside Their House  

Note: The information in this post is based on the latest news reports at the time of posting. Corrections will be added as necessary.  

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Joe Carter


Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

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