PANEL DISCUSSIONS

Witness to History

Sponsored by

National Law Enforcement Museum's panel discussion examines the terrorist attack and the manhunt that ensued, leaving the Boston area on high-alert.


On October 7, 2015, the National Law Enforcement Museum presented the 12th installment of its popular Witness to History panel discussion series, generously sponsored by Target®. Held at the U.S. Navy Memorial’s Burke Theatre, guests enjoyed a fascinating program that detailed specific accounts from the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, one of the most recent terrorist attacks on our nation’s homeland.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd, kicked off the event by welcoming the nearly 150 guests in attendance. He introduced the panel moderator, Frank Bond, a veteran journalist and former anchor at WUSA-TV in Washington, DC; and panelists, former FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers, Watertown (MA) Police Department Sgt. John MacLellan, and U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Carmen M. Ortiz, who detailed their experiences managing the response to the attack.

Each panelist had vivid memories of when the bombs exploded near the Marathon’s finish line on Boylston Street. Ms. Ortiz remembered hearing the blasts from her office. “After the first blast, I wasn’t sure what had happened and asked that people keep me apprised of what was going on. Then the second explosion occurred and I knew I had to get the mayor on the phone. The news of the explosions just spread like wildfire.” Special Agent in Charge DesLauriers recalled the efficiency with which the multi-jurisdictional investigation came together, noting that already-established relationships played a key role in their efficacy. Another point of discussion was the role media played, and how reporting both hurt and helped the investigation.

Witness to History: Investigating the Unabomber

Each panelist had vivid memories of when the bombs exploded near the Marathon’s finish line on Boylston Street. Ms. Ortiz remembered hearing the blasts from her office. “After the first blast, I wasn’t sure what had happened and asked that people keep me apprised of what was going on. Then the second explosion occurred and I knew I had to get the mayor on the phone. The news of the explosions just spread like wildfire.” Special Agent in Charge DesLauriers recalled the efficiency with which the multi-jurisdictional investigation came together, noting that already-established relationships played a key role in their efficacy. Another point of discussion was the role media played, and how reporting both hurt and helped the investigation.

Later, Sgt. MacLellan recalled the chaos at the scene in Watertown shortly after midnight on April 19, 2013, where brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were shooting at police and throwing bombs. “This was something you couldn’t train for in our department. It was more like a war zone than a street fight,” he shared with the audience. Mr. DesLauriers recalled the 911 call from a Watertown resident that endedthe manhunt. “A call came in from David Henneberry who, after noticing a weather wrap was loose on his boat, looked inside and saw Dzhokhar Tsarnaev alive and sleeping.” In the end, each panelist shared how incredibly moved they were by Boston and Watertown residents who came together in the aftermath of the bombings and the display of strength and resilience of the victims and their families.