Firefighters take position on Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon after two bombs exploded on Monday afternoon.
As the tragic scene continued to unfold near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, officials in Washington, D.C., enhanced visible security and lawmakers sent prayers to those affected by the explosions.
President Barack Obama called Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino and pledged any and all support needed in responding to the explosions. Obama, who had been briefed on the incident by Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco, also called Congressional leaders Monday afternoon.
In a brief appearance at the White House early Monday evening, Obama vowed to bring “the full weight of justice” to whoever perpetrated the bombings in Boston.
“We will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable,” the president said, although he cautioned that the identity of the attacker or attackers was not known and cautioned against jumping to conclusions.
He referred to the bombings as a “tragedy” and praised the first responders. But he notably did not use the word terrorism or terrorist attack in his brief remarks, even though top lawmakers on Capitol Hill were saying the explosions had the hallmarks of terrorism.
“We reaffirm that on days like this, there are no Republicans and Democrats, we are Americans, united in concern for our fellow citizens,” Obama said.
At least two people died as a result of the blasts — one of them reported to be 8 years old — and estimates of the number of people injured were still climbing Monday evening. The Boston Globe reported that Boston hospitals are treating more than 100 people following the explosions.
On Capitol Hill both the House and Senate held moments of silence Monday evening as they returned for the first votes of the week. Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, ordered flags at the Capitol lowered to half-staff.
The prayers for the victims that poured in from members via Twitter Monday afternoon gave way to forceful pledges to get to the bottom of who is responsible as lawmakers returned to the Capitol for votes.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who spent years as the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and now serves on the Intelligence Committee, told reporters that the Intelligence panel had a meeting already scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Collins cited several immediate questions, including whether the attack was perpetrated by a lone wolf or a more organized operation.
A more organized attack would raise important questions about intelligence-gathering, she said. Collins also noted the importance of figuring out if U.S. citizens are involved.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.