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16 Apr, 2013 01:30

Compound tragedy: Boston Marathon blasts mar memorial for Sandy Hook victims

Compound tragedy: Boston Marathon blasts mar memorial for Sandy Hook victims

The deadly blasts at the Boston Marathon opened no-so-old wounds for the siblings of last year’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre victims. Their family members had VIP seats near the site where the first of the twin explosions occurred.

A statement posted on the group’s Facebook page informed that the members of the Newtown Strong team which ran in the marathon were safe, because “all runners completed the race before the explosions happened.”

The team featured the mother of a girl who survived the Sandy Hook shooting.

Follow RT's Live Updates on the blasts.

The 26 mile (42km) course was meant to be honoring the victims of the school shooting with a special mile marker, the city seal with 26 stars - one for each victim.

"I just couldn't believe someone would do that to the Boston Marathon, where you have so many different nationalities of people, so much camaraderie," Newtown resident Ed Lucas, who ran in the race and finished before the explosions, told USA Today.

The Boston Marathon is run each year on Patriots' Day. In the light of the 117th edition of the race, Boston Athletic Association President Joanne Flamino said it was of “special significance” that Mile 26 was dedicated to signify 26 miles in the marathon, as well as the 26 people who lost their lives in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012.

Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza killed himself after he shot dead 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He fired over 150 rounds with his rifle, shooting all of his victims, who were mostly between six and seven years of age, multiple times.

Before going on his shooting spree, Lanza also fatally shot his 52-year-mother at their home in Newtown, where investigators discovered a large stockpile of weapons and ammunition. It was reported that the guns were acquired legally by his mother. The horrific incident triggered heated gun control debate throughout America.

There was a 26-second moment of silence to pay tribute to the Sandy Hook victims, and a group of Newtown parents were among the nine community members taking part in the race.

“In the first 20 miles we’re honoring the 20 Sandy Hook first graders,” Laura Nowaci, a spokeswoman for the Newtown Strong Fund, which raises funds for those affected by the shooting, told WBUR in Boston. “When we crest Heartbreak Hill, and we’re coming back towards Boston, we run the final six for our six fallen educators, including their lives, to protect our children.

“It’s just running, but we want our steps to count,” she added.

Two bombs exploded near the crowded finish line of the marathon, killing at least three people, including an eight-year-old boy, and injuring over 140. Among the wounded are a two-year-old boy with a head injury, a nine-year-old girl with leg trauma and six other kids under the age of 15.

When the twin blasts occurred – about 10 seconds and 90 meters apart - many witnesses initially thought it was an end-of-the-event celebration with fireworks. Only after they saw plumes of smoke, blood staining the pavement and people falling down limbs torn off, did they realize an explosion had taken place.

Federal investigators said no one had claimed responsibility for the fatal explosions, while President Barack Obama promised to find out “who did this.”

“We'll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice," he added.