By CHRISTI PARSONS and KATHLEEN HENNESSEY, Tribune Washington Bureau
The Hartford Courant
9:16 PM EDT, April 15, 2013
— President Barack Obama vowed justice for the victims of the Boston bomb attacks on Monday but cautioned against the urge to "jump to conclusions" before a full investigation is done.
"We still do not know who did this or why, and people shouldn't jump to conclusions before we have all the facts," Obama said. "But make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this. We will find out who did this, we will find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice."
The remarks came just over three hours after bomb blasts along the route of the Boston Marathon claimed the lives of at least three people and injured more than 100, some of them seriously.
Early reports from the Boston police suggest that one or more bombs may have been planted in garbage cans in time to go off as runners neared the finish line of the race.
The White House has promised all its resources to the investigation. Obama is being briefed by senior officials and has directed the FBI director and Homeland Security secretary to make all needed resources available to state and local government agencies.
As details continued to emerge, Obama appeared in the White House briefing room to pledge his efforts to find those responsible and bring them to justice.
He declined to take questions about whether the bombs were part of a terrorist plot and did not speculate on who might be behind the attacks.
"I want to reiterate: We will find out who did this," he said in closing. "And we will hold them accountable."
In Connecticut and New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates Metro North, is increasing patrols coverage and bag inspections, spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said.
"All security personnel will remind all employees to be vigilant. The increased coverage will continue until we fully understand the cause of the explosions in Boston. NYPD is also on alert and indicated they will give additional attention to the subway system," she said in a release.
An Amtrak spokesman said operations continued normally after the explosions, but patrols and sweeps are being increased, and they are coordinating with local and national law enforcement.
State police Lt. J. Paul Vance said two bomb technicians were on their way to Boston to offer assistance.
The U.S. Marshal's service stopped admitting people to the federal courts in Connecticut as a precaution after learning that a bomb may have been placed away from the marathon route at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. People already in court buildings were permitted to remain, according to an official involved in court security.
The explosion at the Kennedy Library turned out to be a fire that officials said was related to the marathon bombings.
Rebecca Stewart, spokeswoman for Hartford Hospital, said Boston MedFlight, the critical care flight service, issued a warning that Boston hospitals were on "divert" and that Hartford Hospital officials should be on alert for incoming patients.
John Wallace, director of communications at Bradley International Airport, said, "We have no comment on increased security."
New Haven police held over half their first shift officers as a precaution, said police spokesman Officer David Hartman. Extra police were also at the rally for the Yale hockey team's national championship, which began at 5 p.m.
Soon after the explosions, Connecticut officials started sharing information in Hartford through the Connecticut Intelligence Center, which is also known as the fusion center. Connecticut's operation is among 72 centers nationwide that were upgraded after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"We continue to actively monitor the situation in Boston through our state intelligence center,'' said Scott DeVico, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, which oversees homeland security. "We have been in contact with our federal homeland security partners, and they have not raised the national threat level at this time.''
The intelligence center represents a collaboration of first responders that includes officials from federal homeland security, state police, emergency management, local law enforcement, federal Transportation Security Administration, and other agencies.
DeVico acknowledged that the situation Monday evening was still fluid.
"We continue to actively monitor the situation,'' he said.
The governor's office referred questions to DeVico.
In Washington, police moved quickly to restrict pedestrian traffic outside the White House. The street was closed to vehicles following the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City. Tourists continued to stroll through Lafayette Park directly across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.
"Out of an abundance of caution, we have expanded our security perimeter at the White House complex," said Edwin Donovan, deputy assistant director at the Secret Service.
Courant staff reports are included.
Copyright © 2013, The Hartford Courant