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Smart Phones, Social Media Color Boston Bombing Response


Monday afternoon, Brooke Fisher Liu, who studies risk and crisis communication as an affiliated faculty member with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism, found the personal and professional crossing paths.

After two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston marathon, she watched on her computer screen, as some of her friends and family members in the Boston area began to post messages.

“I certainly saw what we see in these disasters,” she said, which were messages to let loved ones know, “’I’m okay, I’m safe’ or, ‘I need a place to sleep.’”

Much has changed since 9/11, when just 1 percent of Americans learned of the terror attacks from the Internet, and cell phones had few of the capabilities most have today. Over the last decade, social media and the ubiquity of smartphones—which are now used by nearly half of all Americans—have given news organizations, law enforcement officials and the public more information to work with as a crisis unfolds.

In the hours after twin explosions blew out windows and injured scores of runners and spectators in Boston Monday, news organizations relied heavily on media from bystanders who captured some of the first images from the scene. News organizations like the Boston Globe and The Daily Beast used Storify, which gathers information posted to social media sites, to supplement their coverage of the story as it developed. Raw videos, like the  one below, taken by runner Jennifer Treacy—who was approaching the finish line, camera rolling when a blast shook the street—made its way onto national news sites. 

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And as of Tuesday afternoon, 5,400 Boston-related records had been submitted to Google People Finder, an online message board developed by the company’s crisis response team in 2010 to help people searching for friends and family in Haiti earthquake gather information about their whereabouts.

“It seems like there’s a new platform everyday,” said Jim Lukaszewski, a crisis management and media consultant, who’s lectured on the media and terrorism. “I think clearly social media is and will continue to play an extraordinarily important role in events like this, whether it’s the Carnival disaster or — name your disaster.”

In February, when a fire in the engine room of the Carnival Triumph blew out power through much of the ship, stranding thousands of passengers at sea, stories of conditions on board leaked out through a stream of photos and videos posted to the web via smartphones.

When a much graver tragedy stuck Newtown, Conn. months earlier, both the flow of information between the public and law enforcement officials, as well as the flow of financial contributions to the grieving community, moved swiftly through the Internet. In the first days after the Newtown Memorial Fund was launched, its founder estimated that it was receiving $2,000 every hour in online contributions.

In addition to mobilizing philanthropic efforts, social media and smartphones have been and continue to be important tools for investigators. Law enforcement officials called on members of the public Tuesday to bring forward any photos or videos captured at Monday’s marathon that may help them track down the person or people behind the deadly attack.

“There’s no drawback in asking people for information,” Liu said. “It also gives people something to do to help. People are often shocked and want to do something as opposed to just being sad.”

With cell phone service in Boston overwhelmed Monday afternoon, as it was in the wake of 9/11, online media and messaging also provided a crucial means of communication to those who couldn’t get through by phone.

Eleven years ago, many people looking for their loved ones after the Twin Towers were attacked resorted to posting flyers on walls and street lights, requesting anyone with information to call.

Lee Ielpi, the president and co-founder of the 9/11 Families' Association first got word of the 2001 attack from his son, a firefighter who died at Ground Zero, who called to let him know about the first reports coming across an internal radio. Ielpi recalled that, at the time, many people were relying on direct phone calls to gather information.

He sees the new avenues of information sharing that have developed since then as a double-edged sword.

"People get it all on their phones, which in a sense is good," he said. "People have to understand when there's an attack." But he adds that the new media also spreads anxiety, particularly before concrete details are available.

What struck Ielpi, even more than the speed with which information traveled about the Boston blasts however, was the speed with which law enforcement officials sprung into action, as if thoughts of terrorism were at the front of their minds.

"It's interesting, watching the uniformed people, how quickly they react to it now," he said, pointing out that in certain photos you can see that police had their weapons drawn in the seconds after the blast.

"It's a bit scary to think about it, but this is the way we have to live now," he said. "We have to be prepared for these events."

Photo Credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images

Ex-Patriots Lineman Carries Woman at Marathon


When the bomb blasts went off near the finish line at the Boston Marathon on Monday, former New England Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi, who was there for an event to raise money for cancer research, jumped into action.

A photo the New England Patriots circulating on Twitter shows Andruzzi carrying a woman after the blast.

Andruzzi tweeted that he and his wife are fine and issued a statement to ESPN, saying that the spotlight should not be on him. It should be on the first responders and runners, who he said are the true heroes. 

“The spotlight should remain firmly on the countless individuals -- first responders, medics, EMTs, runners who crossed the finish line and kept on running straight to give blood, and the countless civilians who did whatever they could to save lives. They were the true heroes. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this senseless tragedy," the statement to ESPN says.

Andruzzi is a cancer survivor and president of the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which raises money for cancer patients and their families and funds pediatric brain cancer research. The foundation had a team of runners in the marathon and had an event at Forum, on Boylston Street near the site of the second explosion.

Andruzzi has three brothers who are New York City firefighters and responded to the 9/11 attacks.

Andruzzi, a former Southern Connecticut State University All-American, was with the Patriots from 2000 to 2004 and contributed to three Super Bowl wins.  


Photo Credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images

Police Investigate Home Invasion, Sex Assault in Hamden


A man forced his way into a home on Linden Avenue in Hamden early Sunday morning and sexually assaulted a woman, said police, and they are looking for the assailant. 

Police said they responded to the residence at 4:30 a.m. and learned that a woman had been sleeping in her bedroom when the man broke in.

The man sexually assaulted her, threatened to kill her, punched her face and choked her five times, police said, then he placed a sheet over her head and fled from the residence.

The victim was transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital for medical treatment. Her condition is not known.

Police ask anyone with information to call the Hamden Police Department Detective Division at (203) 230-4040 or 230-4000.

Parents Speak Out About Calif. Teen's Assault, Suicide


The family of a California teen who has become a national symbol for sexual assault and cyber bullying spoke publicly for the first time Monday to call for tougher cyber bullying laws and implore anyone who knows about their daughter's case to come forward.

"If this could happen to my daughter, this could happen to anyone," Sheila Pott said at a Monday news conference.

Audrie Pott, 15, tried to commit suicide on Sept. 10, eight days after a Labor Day house party where she drank too much, passed out and was allegedly sexually assaulted by three fellow students at Saratoga High - boys she had been friends with since middle school. She died on Sept. 12 in the hospital, according to her family's lawsuit.

The 16-year-old boys were arrested Thursday on sexual assault charges and are expected to appear in a private juvenile detention hearing on Tuesday. NBC Bay Area was the first to report that news last week.

In a statement, their lawyers called much of the reporting "inaccurate" and distanced their clients from the alleged crime and Audrie's suicide. "Most disturbing is the attempt to link Audrey's [sic] suicide to the specific actions of these three boys," some of the statement read.

NBC Bay Area also learned on Monday after the news conference from attorney Bob Allard that there is a photograph of the girl with writing on her leg. At least one of the boys, Allard said, wrote on her saying something to the effect of  "---- was here." Allard has not seen the photograph, but it was described to him. He referened it in a wrongful death lawsuit he filed on Monday in Santa Clara County Superior Cout, which also alleges the parents of the house party are also responsible. 

Her parents didn't learn why their daughter killed herself until her memorial service, where some friends told them there was more to the story that they should look into. That's when they hired Allard's law firm to investigate.

NBC Bay Area doesn't normally identify victims of sexual assault or suicide, but has used the girl’s name in this report with her parents’ permission. They are hoping the story will help prevent something like this from every happening to anyone else.

It was Sheila Pott's idea to use her daughter's name in such a public forum, which has now become a global story.

She and her ex-husband, Larry Pott, and his wife, Lisa Pott, are working on creating a law to stiffen penalties in California for cyber bullying and to treat juveniles as adults in some cases of sexual assault. They said they are now in the research phase of what they hope will be one day called "Audrie's Law."

At the news conference, some new details into Audrie's story were revealed.

According to Allard, the Pott's family attorney,  the boys took "at least one photo" of the assault and showed it by email and text to at least ten people. He also alleged the boys harrassed her afterward and "took steps to cover up evidence." 

In her mind, Audrie felt as though "the whole school knew," Allard said at news conference, citing Audrie's Facebook page the family scoured after her death.

Allard made a point to say there was a direct cause-and-effect between the party and Audrie's suicide, where hours before she killed herself, she called her mother: "I can't do this anymore Mom. Pick me up." Allard and Pott's parents said they are calling on the District Attorney and the judge involved to try these teens as adults.

Her Facebook page, discovered by her parents only after her memorial service, also showed haunting comments the normally vivacious girl made in private messages to friends, which her family shared publicly. Some of the comments include statements such as:

"I have a reputation for a night I don't remember."

"The whole school is talking about it."

"My life is ruined."

"The boys who did this can die in a hole for all I care."

"I'm in hell."

Still, some evidence - including a cell phone that took the photograph - has not been turned over; at the conference, Lisa Pott said the family learned from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office that one of the boys said he lost or broke it, and the family begged for more information.

Allard filed a 9-count wrongful death lawsuit against the boys and the homeowner where the Labor Day party took place, in large part, to compel some of this information to come forward. The complaint includes allegations of negligence, conspiracy, sexual battery, defamation and false imprisonment.

The school told the family administrators had "disciplined" the boys and expelled them from the football team, but not from school, Allard said, because the alleged assault did not take place at school.

Audrie's parents, on a website dedicated to her, described her as a gifted art student, a writer and a musician who played viola and piano, and she was part of a middle school band that played for Barack Obama's inauguration.

Her father teared up and got very emotional during one point of the news conference in describing his daughter, who used to be "so full of life."

"She was beautiful on the outside," Larry Pott said. "But she was more beautiful on the inside. she was sweet and kind. She was the wittiest and funniest kick in the pants you'd ever seen."

FOR MORE INFORMATION: The Audrie Pott Foundation has been set up to provide information about Audrie and efforts to raise money to provide art and music scholarships to Bay Area students.


Photo Credit: Pott Family

Comfort Dogs Travel to Boston After Bombings


Some of the biggest heroes to emerge from the Boston Marathon bombings are small and cuddly.

Lutheran Church Charities of Addison, Ill. is deploying five specially-trained golden retrievers through their non-profit K-9 Comfort Dogs to provide comfort to those affected by the explosions that rocked the marathon on Monday afternoon.

"People talk to the dogs. They’re like furry counselors," Tim Hetzner, president of Lutheran Church Charities, told Today.com. “It’s a chance to help bring some relief to people that are shaken up because of the bombings.”

Three dogs are flying from Chicago to Boston to join the two that have been providing relief to students and parents at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn -- a community that was hit with their own tragedy in December when a gunman shot and killed 20 children and six adults. 

The dogs are specially trained to interact with people, according to the website, and each one has gone through almost a year of training to help people in stressful situations.

The Comfort Dogs are just one of many tales of hope that surfaced in the wake of the bombings. People have taken to Twitter to express their condolences and as of Tuesday afternoon, close to 50,000 Facebook users have joined a "virtual run" event that asks people to "run (or walk) any distance, anywhere and at anytime" to show solidarity in the running community.

Photo Credit: Lutheran Church Charities

Amid the Tragedy, a Marriage Proposal


Andrew Ruggiero, of Boston, planned to be at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, down on one knee with diamond in hand, when his girlfriend crossed the finish line.

He and Melissa Blasczyk, a Wallingford native, did get engaged yesterday, but only after terrifying moments amid tragic events as explosions turned a festive day into a tragic one.

Blasczyk ran the Boston Marathon on Monday, and Ruggerio had secretly arranged to become a finish-line volunteer and had news crew ready to film the proposal at the finish line.

"Trying to play it cool, and not let her know that I had this elaborate plan with a diamond ring at the finish line, with her family, with my family," he said. 

Then, the bombs went off.

"We were about 10 minutes up, and I had my back to the fence, and you heard the first loud boom," Ruggiero said.

Melissa had safely been turned back from the finish line, but her family did not yet know that as they stared at the finish line when the first bomb went off. 

"I walked away from the race and walked all the way to Cambridge, about a couple miles away," she said. She was getting news of what had happened from Facebook and CNN.

Meanwhile, Blasczyk’s loved ones set out to look for her. They called her cell phone hundreds of times, but there was no answer. Then, a friend spotted Melissa on the street and drove her home. 

"Everyone came and gave me a big hug. It was so great to see everyone. He (Ruggerio) was standing there a little awkwardly," Blasczyk said.

It’s because Andrew was debating whether he should pop the question.

"In light of such dark evil, even I felt it important to say it’s not going to deter me from finally marrying the girl that I love," Ruggiero said.

So Ruggerio got down on one knee inside their apartment and asked for Melissa’s hand in marriage.

No date is set yet, but the couple plan to wed in 2014.

Photo Credit: Confessions of a Northern Belle Blog

Letter to Senator Tests Positive for Ricin


A letter addressed to a U.S. senator from Mississippi has tested positive for the dangerous poison ricin, the FBI said Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday evening that the toxin was sent to the office of Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) in an envelope postmarked Memphis, Tenn.

The tainted letter was intercepted and never made it to the Capitol, but mail to Senate offices was suspended as a result.

"This matter is part of an ongoing investigation by the United States Capitol Police and FBI. I want to thank our law enforcement officials for their hard work and diligence in keeping those of us who work in the Capitol complex safe," Wicker said in a statement Tuesday night.

The letter to Wicker was intercepted at the Landover, Md. mail facility. Wicker's office told his close associates that no one at the post office was exposed to the substance, a source close to him told NBC News.

The FBI field office in Baltimore said the first test in the field was preliminary, and afterward, a second test done in a lab also came back positive for ricin.

The Senate's top security official, the Sergeant at Arms, told NBC News that the appearance of the ricin-tainted letter "wouldn't raise suspicion."

"The bottom line is, the process we have in place worked," Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Tuesday, just after senators were briefed on the letter.

She said officials have identified a person of interest — someone who "writes to a lot of members" of the Senate.

Photo Credit: AP

Chinese National Is 3rd Victim in Marathon Bombings


A Chinese citizen was killed in yesterday's bombings in Boston, the Chinese Consulate confirmed Tuesday night. The victim was also a Boston University graduate student, the school said a few hours earlier in a statement.

The Chinese Consulate declined to identify the victim, at the request of the victim's family. Likewise, the university declined to name the student it said was killed, just as officials had done earlier in the evening at a press conference, pending permission from the student's family.

Phoenix Satellite Television Holdings, a Hong Kong-based broadcaster with ties to the Chinese government, said the victim was a woman from the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang who was a graduate student studying statistics at B.U., according to the Associated Press.

According to Boston University, the student killed was watching the race near the finish line with two friends when the bombs exploded. One of those friends, also a B.U. grad student, was wounded and in stable condition at Boston Medical Center, it said in its statement.

Similarly, the Chinese Consulate said that in addition to the Chinese citizen who was killed, another Chinese citizen was wounded and is now in stable condition after surgery.

The Boston Globe reported that the consulate had identified the injured Chinese woman as Zhou Danling, whom China's official news agency Xinhua described as a grad student studying actuarial science at B.U.

In addition to the victim identified by Boston University as a graduate student and by the Chinese Consulate as a Chinese citizen, two other victims died in the bombings Monday.

Their families have already identified them as 8-year-old Martin Richard, of Boston, and 29-year-old Krystal Campbell, of Medford, Mass.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Blasts Don’t Deter Charity Team from Carrying Out Mission


Dino Verrelli, of Beacon Falls, was just minutes away from crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon on Monday when the bombs went off.

He got to about point four before the finish, where he found a wall of people.

“No one knew what was going on,” said Verrelli, who was running his second Boston Marathon with a charity team. “I asked a couple of police officers what was going on and they had no idea.”

Verrelli’s belongings, including his cell phone, were at the finish line.

He was unable to reach his wife and he could not get to his hotel. After running miles, Verrelli decided to walk two more to the safety of a friend’s house.

“Thankfully, when I rang the doorbell, my best friend’s wife was there to greet me. We hugged, cried for a while. I was able to call my wife,” Verrelli said.

On Tuesday, Verrelli and other runners finally got their belongings at the “Castle” at the Boston Park Plaza. After that, he carried out the mission he came to do for charity.

 “I just dropped off a check for $35,000 with the people at Tufts Medical for pancreatic research,” said Verrelli, who was running for Project Purple, which raises money for pancreatic cancer research. 

Verrelli’s father died of pancreatic cancer and is his inspiration at every race, he said.

A day after the explosions, he echoed what several runners have said -- what happened near the finish line on Monday will not keep them away from the Boston Marathon.

“It’s tragic, but runners are such a resilient group. It’s never going to stop the Boston Marathon or stop them from running,” he said. He said some of the people who lost limbs or went through this tragedy will run next year’s race.

“It’s amazing to see that human spirit,” he said.

You can learn more about Project Purple here. http://www.run4projectpurple.org/

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Boston-Area Woman Killed in Blasts Was "a Dream"


Krystal Campbell was among the three people killed when bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon on Monday, her father told NBC News on Tuesday. That confirmation came as another victim, 8-year-old Martin Richard, was mourned as "a vivacious little kid."

The 29-year-old from the Boston suburbs was at the finish line with her friend Karen Rand to cheer on Rand's boyfriend, who was running, the New York Daily News reported.

"She was a wonderful person. Everyone who knew her loved her. She was a sweet kid and friendly, always smiling. She worked so hard at everything she did," Krystal's mother Patty Campbell told reporters Tuesday from the front porch of the family's home in Medford, Mass.

"She was the best daughter you could ask for. It doesn't make any sense," she said, as she broke down in tears.

"My daughter was the most lovable girl," Krystal's father William Campbell had earlier told Yahoo News. "She helped everybody, and I'm just so shocked right now. We're just devastated."

He called Krystal "a dream" and "the best person you’d ever meet," the Daily News reported.

He told the Daily News that in the confusion just after the bombings, he and his family had at first thought that their daughter had survived and was in surgery — when in fact it was Rand, not Campbell, who was in surgery, he said.

Krystle's grandmother Lillian Campbell told the Boston Globe that her granddaughter, who had grown up in Medford, Mass., had recently left a job managing a seafood restaurant and moved to the nearby town of Arlington for a job managing a steakhouse there.

She went to watch the marathon every year, her grandmother told the Globe.

Krystal Campbell had earlier worked as a fitness coach for the Boston Institute of Football and for the Boston gym Hordon Health, according to the gym.

"She was beautiful, she was loud, and everyone loved her for it," Hordon Health said in a statement on its Facebook page. "She had tremendous passion and energy, and Krystal attacked life with vigor and excitement."

Campbell had graduated from Medford High School in 2001, Inside Medford reported.


Photo Credit: Courtesy of Campbell family

Amid the Tragedy, a Marriage Proposal


Andrew Ruggiero, of Boston, planned to be at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, down on one knee with diamond in hand, when his girlfriend crossed the finish line.

He and Melissa Blasczyk, a Wallingford, Conn. native, did get engaged Monday, but only after terrifying moments amid tragic events as explosions turned a festive day into a tragic one.

Blasczyk ran the Boston Marathon on Monday, and Ruggiero had secretly arranged to become a finish-line volunteer and had a news crew ready to film the proposal at the finish line.

"Trying to play it cool, and not let her know that I had this elaborate plan with a diamond ring at the finish line, with her family, with my family," he said. 

Then, the bombs went off.

"We were about 10 minutes up, and I had my back to the fence, and you heard the first loud boom," Ruggiero said.

Melissa had safely been turned back from the finish line, but her family did not yet know that as they stared at the finish line when the first bomb went off. 

"I walked away from the race and walked all the way to Cambridge, about a couple miles away," she said. She was getting news of what had happened from Facebook and CNN.

Meanwhile, Blasczyk’s loved ones set out to look for her. They called her cell phone hundreds of times, but there was no answer. Then, a friend spotted Melissa on the street and drove her home. 

"Everyone came and gave me a big hug. It was so great to see everyone. He (Ruggiero) was standing there a little awkwardly," Blasczyk said.

It’s because Andrew was debating whether he should pop the question.

"In light of such dark evil, even I felt it important to say it’s not going to deter me from finally marrying the girl that I love," Ruggiero said.

So Ruggiero got down on one knee inside their apartment and asked for Melissa’s hand in marriage.

No date is set yet, but the couple plan to wed in 2014.

Photo Credit: Confessions of a Northern Belle Blog

West Hartford Men Share Boston Marathon Explosion Stories


West Hartford resident Andy Bassock has worked volunteer security for the Boston Marathon for 22 years and was at the finish line on Monday when the bombs went off.

“We started moving toward the grandstands because we could start hearing some people shouting, but it was very surreal -- almost quiet,” Bassock said.

His training kicked in and Andy ran toward the people screaming for help.

As he tried to clear the grandstands and get others out, at the same time putting his own life in danger, a colleague called out to him.

“He shouted ‘Andy get out! We think there are more bombs’" Andy recalls.

Andy's fellow volunteers grabbed wheelchairs from the finish line to move the injured to safety.

When he realized he hadn't called his wife and his cell phone was not working, Andy asked the crowd around him for help.

“Instantly five hands came at me with phones and I was able to call my wife and let her know I was safe and OK and trying to assist at the scene,” he said.

Those are the small moments of hope and humanity that survivors like Andy held on to and brought home with them.

Dan Benshoff, also from West Hartford, had already crossed the finish line when the first bomb went off. He was waiting in the medical tent.

“Paramedics started streaming from the back of tent to the entrance, which was Boylston (Street). And the guy on the PA system came on and said, ‘Everyone calm down, stay level headed. This is what we train for.’ So at that point, we knew something bad had happened,” he said.

In the chaos, no one knew if abandoned bags held more explosives.

Dan and his wife started walking out of the area, wondering whether the friends they came to run with were all right.

At home the day after the blasts, he's still trying to process everything.

“It's terrible and horrific and tough to deal with,” Dan said.

Thousands Gather for Boston Bombing Vigil


On the day after the Boston terror attack, the greater Boston community learned more about those whose lives were lost.

The three people killed in Monday’s dual explosions at the finish line of the prestigious Boston Marathon are identified as a third-grader from Dorchester, a 29-year old from Medford, Massachusetts and a Boston University student.

Eight-year-old Martin Richard was killed from the blast as he was watching the race with his parents and two siblings. His mother, Denise, and sister Jane are continuing to recover with very serious injuries.

Thousands of people filled a park in Dorchester, Massachusetts to pray for the Richard family, who residents described as being very community-oriented.

The loss of the friendly Little Leaguer left parents and classmates asking, Why?

“It’s confusing,” said Veronica Phillips, who was in Richard’s First Communion class at St. Ann’s Church in town. “I don’t know why this world is so cruel.”

Boston’s largest neighborhood congregated for the half-hour vigil at Garvey Park.

Candles were raised and small American flags waved as the close-knit community described their shock to those from national and international media.

Following the service, led by Fr. John Connolly of nearby St. Brendan’s Church, the crowd spontaneously broke into a rendition of “God Bless America.”

Route 6 on Columbia/Andover Line to Reopen


Route 6 on the Columbia, Andover line was closed after a two-car head-on collision this morning and is it is expected to reopen around 8:15 a.m., according to police.

Police responded to Route 6 and Woodward Road around 6 a.m. on Wednesday, where a car and a pick-up had collided head-on.

The truck was engulfed in flames when officers arrived. 

LifeStar was called and one patient was transported.


View Larger Map

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Route Six Closed in Andover


Route 6 on the Andover/Columbia town line will be closed for hours after a two-car head on collision early this morning.

Police responded to the area of Route 6 and Woodward Road around 6 a.m. this morning.

There they discovered that a car and a pick-up truck had collided head on. The truck was engulfed in flames when officers arrived.

LifeStar was called to the scene and one patient was transported.

According to police, the road will be closed for hours.


Boston Terror: A Nation Mourns

A woman cries during a vigil for eight-year-old Martin Richard who was killed by an explosion at the Boston Marathon. As our country attempts to make sense of the violence people from across the nation are mourning and praying for the victims. Click to take a look at some of the events and reaction to the terrible blasts that killed three and injured over 170 people.

Yankees Honor Boston With “Sweet Caroline”


The Red Sox and Yankees have one of the biggest rivalries in sports, but that was set aside on Tuesday night as the Yankees honored Boston.

During the Yankees vs. Arizona Diamondbacks game last night, the Yankees held a moment of silence, played the Fenway Park anthem -- Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” -- and displayed United We Stand on the exterior of the building, between the Yankees and Red Sox logos.

“Join #Yankees fans as they send their love to Boston with the singing of ‘Sweet Caroline’ after the 3rd inning," the team Tweeted on Tuesday afternoon.

Inside the park, the Yankees displayed “Sweet Caroline” lyrics, including “And when I hurt, hurtin’ runs off my shoulders …”    

Neil Diamond was paying attention and Tweeted words of thanks to the Yankees.

Fans also showed support for a city that was rocked by the explosions on Boston Marathon Monday. 

“When something like this happens to a specific city, it happens to the country,” Carolyn Contreras, of Norwood, New Jersey, told NBC New York. “It doesn't just happen to a specific city. … We're pulling for them.”

Joe Homa, of Hillsdale, New Jersey, said we're a united nation and we will move forward.

“My prayers go out to all the families in Boston, just like after 9/11,” he said.

The New York Police Department made a heavy appearance the day after explosions killed three and injured more than 170 people at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. 

"We've prepared as if yesterday was a prelude to an attack here in New York," New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told NBC New York on Tuesday night.

Anti-terror units were on patrol, bags were checked as usual and k-9 units were out. The Guardian Angels were watching as well.

The final score was Yankees: 4, Arizona Diamondback: 2.

Other teams also paid tribute to Boston. Several played “Sweet Caroline.”

The Milwaukee Brewers and fans sang the theme song to “Cheers,” a television show that was set in downtown Boston.




Photo Credit: Getty Images

Weiner 2nd Place in Democratic NYC Mayoral Poll


Disgraced former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner could mount a serious Democratic primary challenge against City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, whose lead in the mayoral race is slipping, a new NBC New York/Marist College poll shows.

Weiner, who resigned after a 2011 sexting scandal but has been edging back into politics, could throw the Democratic primary into disarray, siphoning votes not only from Quinn but from other contenders, including Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson, the poll reveals.

The poll of registered voters taken last Thursday through Monday offers the first glimpse at what the race would look like with Weiner. The survey shows that if he entered the race now, he’d start out in second place, with 15 percent of the vote among Democratic respondents.

That’s short of front-runner Quinn’s 26 percent, and nowhere near the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff. And there are still many voters who are wary of his return, including 50 percent of Democrats who said they wouldn’t consider voting for him.

People like 70-year-old Mary Reynolds, who lives in Weiner's former Brooklyn congressional district and took part in the poll.

"Oh, Anthony Weiner, he annoys the devil out of me," Reynolds told NBC 4 New York in a follow-up interview. "He's a spineless person. I would not vote for him at all. I speak with my neighbors, and they say, "What is he, a joke?'"

Still, some findings in the poll could be seen as encouraging for Weiner, who aspired to be mayor for many years before his career hit the rocks. He has only recently gone public with his story and begun attempts to repair his image.

In that context, he can already tout results.

His favorability rating jumped from 34 percent to 45 percent since Marist last asked voters about him two months ago. The number of voters with an unfavorable impression of him hasn’t changed much; it stands at 41 percent.

"These are not great numbers, but from his perspective, he’s trending more positive,” said Lee Miringoff, director of Marist Institute for Public Opinion. “He’s obviously polarizing, with a high negative rating. But when he gets into a field that’s not well formed, he does fall into second place and becomes a player in this.”

Weiner declined to comment.

The poll surveyed 873 registered voters, 556 of whom were Democrats. Results for the Democratic respondents had a plus or minus 4 percentage point margin of error. Results for the entire group of registered voters had a plus or minus 3 percent point margin of error.

Quinn has suffered from being the front-runner, and the target of most negative campaigning, Miringoff said. The City Council speaker polled at 37 percent in February, several points higher than she stands now, with or without Weiner. Her favorability is also down among Democrats since February, from 65 percent to 59 percent.

According to the poll, if Weiner entered the Democratic primary today, his 15 percent would put him behind Quinn’s 26 percent but ahead of City Comptroller John Liu (12 percent), de Blasio (11 percent), Thompson (11 percent) and former City Councilman Sal Albanese (2 percent).

By comparison, without Weiner, Quinn would receive 30 percent of Democratic votes and de Blasio would be second with 15 percent, followed by Thompson (14 percent), Liu (11 percent) and Albanese (2 percent).

In short, with Weiner in the race, Quinn, de Blasio and Thompson all suffer.

"He’d make it much more difficult for anyone to reach 40 percent to avoid a runoff," Miringoff said.

Those numbers illustrate the fluidity of the Democratic primary, in which 22 percent of voters remain undecided, the poll shows. And even among those who have a preference, only about a third say they’re firmly committed.

"This is a race with no incumbent," Miringoff said. "It’s understandable that voters are going to be shopping around. And Weiner doesn’t clarify that."

The undecided include Arthur Raphael, 52, of Brooklyn.

Raphael, who participated in the poll, said in an interview that he was a supporter of Weiner's when he was in Congress, and thought that the sexting scandal was blown out of proportion. He said he wanted Weiner in the mayoral race, if only to able to consider him as an option.

"He deserves to be given a voice and to be in the race and to be heard and to be a part of the debates," Raphael said. "I"m not saying I'm voting for him, but I believe he's earnest and possibly not corrupt."

Pollsters asked general election voters about two hypothetical November matchups against likely Republican nominee Joe Lhota. If Quinn was the Democratic nominee, she’d beat Lhota 59 percent to 19 percent. If Weiner were the nominee, he’d beat Lhota 51 percent to 28 percent. In both scenarios, 21 percent said they were undecided.

Weiner, 47, resigned from his Brooklyn congressional seat in June 2011 after using Twitter to send provocative photos of himself to women and when the exchanges became public, he claimed he’d been hacked. He eventually confessed and went into virtual hiding with his wife, Huma Abedin, a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton. At the time, Abedin was pregnant with their first child.

Weiner first ran for mayor in 2005, and nearly forced a runoff against Fernando Ferrer, but conceded in the name of party solidarity. He planned to run again in 2009, and was considered a leading contender, but dropped out after Mayor Bloomberg chose to run for a third term. Prior to his unraveling, Weiner had begun to plan for a 2013 campaign. He still has more than $4 million in his campaign account.

In recent weeks, Weiner has been making slow steps toward another mayoral run. He commissioned an internal poll in March to gauge what voters thought of him. He granted a series of intimate interviews with The New York Times Magazine, which resulted in a cover story that detailed his efforts to repair his marriage and decide whether to pursue his political dream. He released a policy booklet  that was similar to one he distributed in anticipation of running in 2009. And he sat down with NY1 for an interview, broadcast Monday, in which he talked policy, apologized for his past behavior and said he was nearing a decision on the 2013 race.

One advantage that Weiner enjoys is name recognition: for good or ill, a lot of New Yorkers know who he is.

Democrats seem to be warming to the idea of a Weiner candidacy. In an October poll, only 28 percent wanted him to run, and 57 percent did not. Now, 40 percent want him to run, and 46 percent do not, the poll found.

But Democrats are divided on whether Weiner has changed as a person. Thirty-seven percent think he has, and 32 percent disagree. The remaining 31 percent aren’t sure.

"Weiner can look at that and say, ‘A third are on my side right now,'" Miringoff said. But the numbers also show that if he chooses to run, "he’s clearly going to have to prove himself."

Photo Credit: AP

Praying for Comfort


As people seek out comfort after the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday, many religious leaders are seeing an influx during this tough time.

At the St. Anthony Shrine in Boston on Wednesday, local Susan Grealy sought comfort and said the city of Boston is in need of a lot of prayer.

"I come here just to get grounded and just for strength and for everyone around me going through this terrible time," she said.

Grealy said this brings back the basics and the Golden Rule.

"Just pray for even the perpetrators and give them the strength and courage to come forward and just pray for each other,” she said.

John Paul Foley said he prays here every morning, but his conversations with God have changed since the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

"What purpose and what good could come out of it," he said.

Rabbi Shmuel Posner, of the Chabad House of Greater Boston, said he's been flooded with tough questions.

"I deal with it on a personal level and a community level," he said.

People question everything from why the tragedy happened to how to cope the overwhelming sadness.

"I'm telling them that essentially the world is a good place. When we have to deal with evil, it’s a temporary phenomenon," he said. "Try to see things in the bigger picture and, most importantly. they should focus their energies on good things. They should be kinder to each other, do good deeds."

More than 400 runners from Connecticut participated in the marathons. Others volunteered or watched the race. An interfaith service will be held in Berlin on Thursday night.
It will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Islamic Association of Greater Hartford, 1781 Berlin Turnpike, in Berlin. 

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their family members. We come together in unity and solidarity to seek comfort and healing." Dr. Reza Mansoor, president, Islamic Association of Greater Hartford, said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Flags Fly Off Shelves at Boston Shops


In the hours after the bombings in Boston on Monday, Jack Gurnon had to make a difficult decision of whether or not to open his small hardware store on Charles Street in the city.

He decided to open the doors of Charles Street Supply Co. bright and early at 6 a.m. on Tuesday and American flags have been flying off the shelves. He said it is a symbol of Boston’s resilience and of American pride.

“As a businessman, it doesn’t matter. It’s not the point. It makes me feel really good that people would think of showing their support by buying American flags.

As the investigation is underway, Jack said the city will recover.

“Americans are the strongest people on Earth. We’re just going to show whoever is doing this that you can’t beat us,” Gurnon said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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