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Columns

April 17, 2013

We all grieve for Martin Richard

(Continued)

It had become one of infamy.

I then recalled getting a phone call 18 years ago this week from a high-ranking police official. He advised me that a young man from western New York had just been apprehended and was about to be charged in connection with the Oklahoma City bombing.

I took the next flight to Buffalo that afternoon, rented a car and drove to Lockport, where I found people who had grown up with Timothy McVeigh, the Army veteran who would later be convicted and executed for the killings of those toddlers at the Oklahoma City Federal Building. At a bar, a guy told me that McVeigh’s mother had abandoned the family when he was a boy.

Monday afternoon, as I left Dorchester, I first tried to make it north to the Massachusetts Turnpike, then turned around when I ran into an impenetrable traffic bottleneck and drove back to Dorchester.

Now, in a parking lot outside a supermarket where I had bagged groceries as a teenager, there were more than 15 police cruisers with blue lights flashing. The police officers were cordoning off a yellow Penske moving truck in the lot. They were investigating it in connection with the Marathon bombing.

Thirty or so minutes ticked by and the police released the truck — but it was unsettling in that time to see a place so interconnected with your own life suddenly caught up in a frightful drama involving terrorism, malicious mayhem and murder.

We wondered how any human being could be so callous and malicious toward innocent civilians, that he or she or they would set out to maim and murder in this way.

I recalled what Timothy McVeigh had said before he was executed, that he saw those babies in Oklahoma as “collateral damage.”

Tuesday morning, after having left Boston, I learned that the young boy killed at the finish line was part of the same closely knit neighborhood as the guys who had accompanied me to Fenway one day earlier.

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