SMC remembers Boston
Santa Monica College student Miranda Haeick received a text from her roommate while she was at work. It read, "Boston's under attack." At first she thought it was a joke, or maybe it was something sports related, but once she realized it was real, she immediately called her mom to make sure her family and her cousin, who was running in the marathon, were not harmed.
Every year, two of her cousins join the Boston marathon, but only one of her cousins ran the marathon this year. Haieck said that the cousin not running would have finished around the same time the bomb exploded.
"My heart dropped," said Haeick. "I've always looked at Boston as the safest place in the world."
Haeick will return to Boston this summer to visit her mother's side of the family, and she knew she will see more memorials around the city dedicated to those affected by the tragedy, especially since she emphasized how Bostonians have a very close bond.
Former SMC student Maury Ferreira, who now resides in Boston, spoke of his experience in an email.
"The first and second marathon bombings were about five minutes away from where I was at that time," he said. "On that day, I received alert notifications from [University of Massachusetts, Boston] that my school was closed on Tuesday morning in light of the bombings and fire. Even if the school had reopened, I would not feel comfortable going to my class in light of the fire incident in the JFK library."
Two of Ferreira's close friends had left the explosion site at the marathon five minutes before the explosion happened. He received close to a dozen alert text messages and phone calls about possible bomb threats in the week that followed.
"I was even terrified to learn that I happened to be in the same vicinity in Cambridge when somebody reported suspicious packages around Cambridge to the authorities," Ferreira said.
"This experience is very unusual and traumatic for me. I feel angry and scared right now. This is my first time experiencing being in the vicinity of the bombing and shooting incidents," he said.
Since the incident, the suspects were identified and taken into custody as brothers Tamerian and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was the older brother who was killed by police, while younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found in a boat after an intense manhunt that kept Boston on lockdown for hours. He did not have Miranda rights read to him, and he is currently in stable but serious condition in the intensive care unit, replying in writing to investigators' questions. If convicted, the death penalty is a possibility due to the use of weapons of mass destruction, according to local news sources.
Since the Boston explosion, there has been an increase in phone calls about suspicious objects throughout the nation.
On Tuesday afternoon, SMC faced a bomb threat that initiated the evacuation of over a thousand people from the main campus quad during the College Fair.
After the incident, Santa Monica College Police Department Sgt. Jere Romano said that he has witnessed about four bomb threats in the more than 20 years he has served on campus.
Officer Deladrian Chua of the SMCPD cited a bomb scare at SMC a few years ago which turned out to be an unattended bag.
If something like the Boston explosion occurred at SMC, Chua said that the "first initial response as emergency responders is to care for the sick and wounded and evacuate everyone as quickly as [they] can."
Chua, who has a military background, explained that there could be a secondary explosion, like what happened in Boston, which is why they initially quarantine.
In terms of investigation, because resources are limited, they also work with the Santa Monica Police Department, especially with arson investigations, Chua said. The SMCPD staffing is pretty low, with only seven officers and three sergeants.
Sgt. Gary Morgan, of the Arson-Explosives Detail with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, explained that, to his knowledge, Santa Monica has not had any explosions such as the Boston explosion, but Los Angeles has had explosions in the past.
Morgan said that bombings have always been terrorists acts.
"The bombing in Boston was a terrorist act, whether if it was done by a jihadist or a homegrown terrorist who doesn't like something about somebody," he said. "They might just want to kill for the thrill of seeing people being murdered."
"Since the bombing Monday, calls have tripled," Morgan said. "None of them have been active bombs."
In order for people to feel safe in Los Angeles County during events like the Rose Bowl and LA Marathon, there will be more visible patrol and arson canines, said Morgan. The dogs will travel around the entire parameter and look for suspicious packages. Usually they will get one call a day of the event of suspicious activity, which can be costly.
Morgan mentioned specifically that there is a heightened alert and since the Boston incident the sheriff's department is monitoring the railway system more diligently.
"The LAPD is an excellent bomb squad, and they will do everything they can to protect the citizens," said Morgan, regarding upcoming marathons.