Boston bombings prompt heightened alert in Florida

4:06 PM, Apr 16, 2013   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida -- Law enforcement agencies across Florida are operating under a heightened alert as a result of the Boston bombings on Monday.

Two bombs killed three people and injured more than 170 on Patriots Day in Boston. No one has claimed responsibility but a terrorist attack is one of the possibilities.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says investigators across the state are studying intelligence from the bombings and right now there is no indication of any threats against Florida.

Spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger says FDLE has intelligence gathering operations around Florida that share information with local, state and federal law enforcement authorities.

The so-called Fusion Centers were created following the 2001 terrorists attacks. Plessinger says they operate around the clock and are always looking for threats.

"Our fusion centers have been actively monitoring intelligence and monitoring the situation to make sure that there are no threats against Florida and right now there doesn't appear to be any threats against Florida. But we are actively monitoring the situation and will continue to do so. Law enforcement across the state is operating on a heightened alert looking for anything suspicious."

Florida's fusion centers gather, process, and distribute crime information, as well as homeland security data.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has not issued an alert in connection with the Boston bombings.

But the Florida Division of Emergency Management is in constant contact with Homeland Security and other state agencies as a result of the incident.

Emergency Management Deputy Director Mike DeLorenzo says Florida has worked hard since the terrorist attacks of 2001 to develop an effective response system and Floridians should be reassured from that fact.

"We have seven regional domestic security task forces that were established and we have specialty teams, response teams, that work with those task forces statewide and we've spent a lot of funds over the years building this system to respond in case the state were to be impacted. We're ready to respond in case something should happen."

The Boston bombings were felt around the world as friends and families of the marathon runners scrambled to find out if they were safe.

David Yon of the Tallahassee-based Gulf Winds Track Club says more than 20 runners from the Tallahassee area participated in the Boston Marathon.

He says it was initially tough to reach them but all came away safely. He says family members waiting near the finish line were in more danger than the runners.

"One person had actually stood in that spot for about three-and-a-half hours and then when her husband, Alan Cox, had gone by the finish line, she left to go meet him in the family area. She said she would've been right in the area where the bomb went off."

Yon has run the Boston Marathon about 10 times and he loves the whole experience: the history of the race, the participants, the fans and the city.

Now he wonders what the bombings might mean for the future of the race. He says his worst fear is that organizers cancel the event, so he's offering them this perspective.

"Don't let someone take something away from you that's special. Fight to keep it and hopefully the people that did this will get caught, punished and we'll find better ways to keep it from happening in the future. But regardless, just don't let anyone take something as special as Boston away from us."

Yon says he's already planning to run the Boston Marathon next year in a show of support for the race. And Tallahassee runners will show their support for Boston this weekend.

Yon says he wants runners at a race in Tallahassee this weekend to wear blue and yellow ribbons, the colors of the Boston Marathon, in honor of one of the world's oldest and finest races.

Dave Heller

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