Share This Page

Pittsburgh to heighten marathon security

| Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 12:04 a.m.
Medical responders run an injured man past the finish line the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts.
People react to a second explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, John Tlumacki)
Women react as they walk from the area where there was an explosion after the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)
This photo provided by Bruce Mendelsohn shows the scene after two explosions occurred during the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts.

A former FBI agent and security expert characterized a marathon as a “classic soft target” on Monday in the aftermath of the attack in Boston.

In less than three weeks, tens of thousands of runners will be in Pittsburgh for the city's annual long-distance race, and police said security will be tight.

“Horrific incidents like what just occurred at the Boston Marathon remind all law enforcement that we must always remain vigilant,” said Maurita Bryant, Pittsburgh police Assistant Chief of Operations. City police “will work with all local, state and federal agencies to ensure that heightened security measures are taken to maintain a safe and secure atmosphere,” she said.

Larry Likar, chairman of the department of Justice, Law and Security at La Roche College who spent 23 years with the FBI, said, “It's an easy target. It's impossible to secure a site like that. It's not like a football stadium, where you're funneled in through entrances where security can be concentrated.”

Organizers of the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon expect 30,000 runners during race weekend events, including the 5K on May 4, and the half marathon, full marathon and relay on May 5. The race begins and ends Downtown.

Likar said that bombs often are the weapon of choice for terrorist groups and that claims of responsibility typically follow.

“You would expect someone to claim it, if it's a terrorist organization. They want the maximum publicity,” Likar said.

Stanley Parker, 45, of Squirrel Hill, a vice president of the Pittsburgh Marathon who ran the Boston race, returned to his hotel a block from the finish line and heard two explosions. He said police and race organizers are well prepared.

“I wouldn't say anything different has to be done because we've always prepared for it,” Parker said. “This incident will obviously raise awareness at any kind of public event.”

In 2010, a bomb scare disrupted the Pittsburgh half marathon. A microwave oven was found on the sidewalk in front of the Greyhound bus terminal along the race route, blocks from the finish line. Police rerouted the race and called the bomb squad.

“Since then, we've been really trying to prepare extensively and put measures in place to protect and keep people safe,” race Director Patrice Matamoros said.

“Runner safety is No. 1. We've worked with the city of Pittsburgh bomb squad, Homeland Security, police and EMS to put together a process for race week and race weekend in which we do sweeps for bombs or mysterious packages or items that may be along the course or at the start and finish lines.”

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said officials will need to review security around the Pittsburgh marathon and other events.

“We have a lot of large community events,” he said. “This shows we are potentially vulnerable.”

Staff writers Dave Conti, Karen Price, Bobby Kerlik and Andy Conte contributed. Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or mharding@tribweb.com.

Related Content
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.