David Friedman / NBC News
Lisa Robinson, Kimmarie Keane, Kim Daly and Shiovan Ross, left to right, take part in a vigil on Tuesday, April 16, 2013, in Dorchester, Mass., for the family of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. The women went to high school with Martin's mother, Denise Richard, who was also injured in the blast.
A grieving Boston community filled a park late Tuesday where a local boy who was killed in the Boston Marathon bombings once played, sending prayers to the family and the neighborhood child as they held candles, joined in prayer and sang “God Bless America.”
Three died in the bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon including 8-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest victim, who was remembered by neighbors who left flowers and candles at his family's home. NBC's Katy Tur reports.
Martin Richard, 8, was standing by the finish line with his family Monday afternoon when an explosion tore through the area, killing him and two others, and injuring 176. Richard's mother, Denise, suffered a brain injury and his 6-year-old sister, Jane, reportedly lost a leg. His father, Bill, has asked well-wishers to keep the family in their prayers.
Several hundred mourners gathered in Garvey Park did just that. Pastor John Connolly of St. Brendan's Church led them in prayer and said they had come with “hearts full of sorrow and sadness.”
“We come before you (God) as residents of a neighborhood who have been touched all too directly by the reality of violence and evil in our midst,” he said. “What once seemed to be something we watched in the distance or on television has come all close to home.”
He noted that the park, where youth earlier Tuesday had played lacrosse, was where “the feet of young Martin Richard often trod.”
“We are saddened and shattered by the fact that he will no longer run, and smile, and jump, and play, and live, and love among us,” he said.
Katie Murphy hugged her three children tightly, kissed them, and also shed tears at the vigil. She said through tears that she came “because my heart was broken.”
Her son James, 7, and daughter, Madelyn, 5, played street hockey with Martin last year, though Murphy said they didn't really know the Richard family. But James recognized Martin's photo on news reports and asked why he was in them, leading to a sad conversation.
Bill Richard via AP
This undated photo provided by Bill Richard, shows his son, Martin Richard, in Boston.
“They're in our hearts, and our prayers are with them,” Murphy, 41, a nurse, said through soft sobs. “We'll help them get through it, as a community.”
Friends and neighbors in the Richard's middle-class neighborhood said earlier in the day that they were stunned by the loss. The Richards were a “typical, all-American, lovely family,” neighbor Margaret Admirand said, choking back tears.
“It’s devastating. He was an adorable little boy,” Admirand said. “It’s very hard to talk about. He was a sweet little kid.”
Neighbors said Bill and Denise are very active in neighborhood groups, and the children were sporty, playing basketball, hockey and soccer. Another neighbor, Beth Nagy, 48, said the daughter, Jane, had won a medal at a kid's running event on Saturday that she was so excited about.
“They're a wonderful family. … Active community wise and physically running around,” she said, adding, “We just saw him (Martin) yesterday.”
Some of Denise Richard's high school friends from Mount Saint Joseph Academy joined the vigil, and recalled that in school she was soft-spoken, always smiling, pals with everyone and intelligent. They hadn't seen her recently but had been in touch as they organized their 25th high school reunion to take place in October.
Martin Richard, the young victim of the Boston Marathon bombing, is described by his neighbor, Jane Sherman.
“Quite a turnout,” said one of them, Lisa Robinson. “It shows you how much (they) were loved.”
Earlier Tuesday, Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts described what happened at the marathon after speaking to the dad.
“The kids were all up on the barrier” as runners streamed in, Lynch said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “They were all focused forward and the blast came from the back and the side.”
“The dad is a runner, but he wasn’t running yesterday,” Lynch said. “They were there to support some of their friends who were running.”
Friend of the family James Keefe told the Dorchester Reporter he was near the finish line when the blasts went off.
“I heard this earth-shattering boom. I turned and saw this plume and then I heard a second boom, just as loud and earth-shattering,” Keefe said. “I almost blacked out from fear.”
The boy’s father was on a neighborhood committee to refurbish the Ashmont T station, said friend Kevin Skinner. He serves on the board of directors of St. Mark’s Area Main Street, according to the community organization’s website.
“If it was a car accident you would say it was tragic,” Skinner said. “But this didn’t have to happen.”
Friends of the family gathered at Tavolo restaurant on Monday night in Dorchester. Denise Richard is a school librarian at the local Neighborhood House Charter School, where Martin attended as well as his sister Jane. The flag at the school flew at half-mast on Tuesday.
Jared Wickerham / Getty Images
A Boston Police officer lifts the tape for a family to leave flowers in front of the home of the Richard family.
Denise Richard is on the executive board of the Ashmont Adams Neighborhood Association, according to the organization’s website. She bakes goodies for school events, and is always “proud as a peacock” to walk around the neighborhood with her kids in tow, her neighbor Admirand said.
“We think of the Richard family as one unit,” said Bill Forry, editor of the local Dorchester Reporter and a friend of the family said on Tuesday. “For them not to be one now is the hardest thing for us to get our heads around. In addition to the grief of losing Martin, it’s that that family has been so badly wounded. “
“They are beloved by this community. They contribute in many ways. That’s why you see this outpouring,” City Councilor at Large Ayanna Pressley told the Boston Globe. “It’s surreal, it’s tragic, it’s incomprehensible. Everyone here tonight is trying to comfort one another and be prayerful.”
Well wishers left a few bouquets and a small stuffed bear on the stoop of the family’s home early Tuesday. One word was written in chalk on the front walk: “Peace.”
Charles Krupa / AP
See images from the scene of the explosions.
This story was originally published on Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:21 AM EDT