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Runners, fans return to Boston Marathon a year after bombing

New Yorker Renee Pompei-Reynolds runs in the 2013

New Yorker Renee Pompei-Reynolds runs in the 2013 Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Credit: Renee Pompei-Reynolds

          An Editor’s Note published July 12, 2017, about Kevin Deutsch’s reporting appears at the end of this story.

BOSTON -- Jason Sullivan will be standing near the Boston Marathon finish line with his son Monday, cheering on runners in what the former Hauppauge resident considers a show of defiance and civic pride.

A year ago, as the first bomb exploded along Boylston Street during last year's race, Sullivan and his son, Danny, hit the ground and crawled to cover.

Both suffered temporary hearing loss, and as 11-year-old Danny began to cry, Jason picked him up and sprinted away from the race route. Then he ducked into a hotel lobby, holding the boy close until they began to hear again.

"We couldn't hear after they bombed the marathon last year, but this year we'll be hearing loud and clear the sounds of a great city and a great race," said Sullivan, 43, a construction project manager in Boston who did the same work on Long Island from 2002 to 2010. "Our city is a little on edge, but we're coming back to show the world we're not afraid. And I want to show my son not to be afraid."

They will be among a massive crowd of spectators officials anticipate could top 1 million -- twice the usual number -- during the first Boston Marathon since a pair of pressure-cooker bombs detonated near the finish line last year, killing three people and injuring more than 260.

And scores of runners have signed up for the first time, seeing their participation in Monday's race as a chance to show solidarity with Boston and pay tribute to the victims.

Race organizers have expanded the field of runners this year by 9,000 to nearly 36,000. Of those, about 21,000 are traveling here from states outside the New England region to participate, organizers said.

"I am scared of the marathon being a target, but I feel like I have to do this after what happened last year," said participant Jackie Bates, 24, of Manhattan, who works at a Garden City law office. "I've never run it before, so I wanted to be a part of an iconic event that feels even more important now."

For Long Island residents, the race is a chance to support a city still shaken by the terrorist attack.

"The same way people came out to lower Manhattan a year after 9/11, we want to be here to pay tribute," said Mike Pascucci, 51, of Holbrook, who's in Boston to cheer on several family members and friends running the marathon. "This is America's race."

But some Bostonians are not quite ready to attend the marathon again.

Jack Cody, still coping with the trauma of witnessing last year's bombings near the finish line, said he's been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and doesn't feel safe watching the race in person.

"It would bring back too many memories," said Cody, who lives in downtown Boston. "For many of us, it was a traumatic experience. Going back into those crowds . . . remembering the screams and the lockdown, all of that, would be a little much this soon after."

Residents of Boston and its suburbs were given a shelter-in-place lockdown order last April 19 after police officers traded gunshots with the two bombing suspects, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, in the Boston suburb of Watertown. Tamerlan was killed in the shootout. His brother was later found hiding in a nearby boat, and is awaiting trial.

Former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Sunday on ABC Sunday that he's concerned about "some sort of copycat event, something that looks similar to what we saw last year" along the marathon route. He also said authorities have done everything they can to prevent such an attack.

The security operation at Monday's marathon will be the largest in the event's history, using thousands of law enforcement officers along with bomb-sniffing dogs, radiation detectors and other anti-terrorism measures.

"We may be a little scared, a little worried," Sullivan said. "But we're also ready to celebrate a great event."

Editor’s note: Newsday undertook an extensive, four-month review of reporting by Kevin Deutsch, who covered law enforcement from April 2012 to September 2016.

The review of the former Newsday reporter’s work began after The Baltimore Sun this year reported that law enforcement and other officials questioned the veracity of Deutsch’s nonfiction book “Pill City” about Baltimore’s drug trade. In addition, questions arose about individuals named in Newsday stories by Deutsch. Book publisher St. Martin’s Press and Deutsch have said they stand behind the book.

We are dedicated to accurate, factual reporting, to the highest journalistic standards and to maintaining our credibility with Newsday readers. We also are committed to being accountable to our readers. Newsday undertook the detailed review in that spirit and because of the concerns that were raised.

In late February, as our review was under way, The New York Times reported in an editor’s note that The Times “had been unable to locate or confirm the existence of two people who were named and quoted” in a Dec. 29, 2016, freelance article written by Deutsch. Deutsch “maintains that the interviews and the descriptions are accurate,” The Times wrote.

Newsday reviewed 600 stories with reporting by Deutsch. We contacted officials in the police departments regularly involved in Deutsch’s coverage. They said they had not had problems with his work. We then focused our research and reporting on individuals who, as described in the stories, would not be considered officials, or well-known, public figures.

The review found 77 stories with 109 individuals from Deutsch’s reporting whom Newsday could not locate. The main points of the stories were not affected. While two stories about the Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen were based on sources Newsday could not locate, other media reported the main points of those stories but with attribution from different sources. In this story, Newsday could not locate: Mike Pascucci and Jack Cody. Newsday is attaching an editor’s note to each story online that contains individuals we cannot locate.

Here’s how Newsday conducted the review:

Researchers and reporters searched local and national public records, sites providing nationwide people searches, databases of business, real estate and conviction records, social media sites including Facebook, LinkedIn and and nationwide news archives. They searched potential alternate spellings and other name variations. Their reporting followed potential leads they found through research, within stories and in information shared by Deutsch during the review.

Finding people after publication, in some cases years later, can be difficult because of changes in residence, circumstance and contact information. Some may not have given their real names.

On the law enforcement beat, reporters may encounter people who lead lives that are not reflected in public records or other sources of information that would help locate them. It is possible that some on our list were difficult to find or reluctant to respond to our review because they are undocumented immigrants, those battling or recovering from addiction or people involved in or around illegal activity.

Some on our list were described discussing crimes in their neighborhoods, and others as relatives, friends or neighbors of victims or as individuals living near or knowing those accused of crimes.

Others we have not been able to locate, though, are described as bystanders, neighbors, spectators, relatives of drug victims, witnesses to news events or related in some way to people in the news. Still others are described in stories as people actively engaged in public issues, such as activists, protesters and marchers. Many individuals on the list are described as local.

Deutsch said in email exchanges with Newsday that “I have no doubt about the veracity of the claims of the sources I quoted.” He also said, “Not a single public official, source, or other interviewee has raised any issues with even one of these stories.”

“It's impossible for any reporter to know whether the name given to him by interviewees on the street--or those reached briefly by phone or email-- is that person's full and legal name, rather than an alias or variation of their real name (maiden names and certain common nicknames/abbreviations for first names are often published by newspapers, including Newsday.). But every one of the names on Newsday’s list was the name given to me by that interview subject, verbatim.”

During the four months of our review, Newsday shared questions and updates with Deutsch as we progressed in the search for individuals we could not locate. We requested notes and contact information. Deutsch sent us notes he said represented all individuals we were unable to locate and responded over the course of the review by email, sharing information he said was from his recollection and notes.

Reporters followed up on all information shared by Deutsch. He did not provide contact information for those on our list. Newsday reporters and editors sought unsuccessfully several times to meet with Deutsch to discuss his reporting and to review his notes together to ensure we were not missing contact information or other details that might help locate individuals. Deutsch maintained that the notes he shared “serve as evidence of interviews” with each source.

Deutsch said he kept contact information in a Rolodex he left behind at Newsday’s main office and in a company-issued cellphone he returned within a week after resigning on Sept. 6, 2016. Editorial staff did not find a Rolodex or other notes at our office, but found notes left at Newsday’s desk at a courthouse pressroom where he worked. We shared them with Deutsch and he confirmed they were his. As per company policy, the contents of the cellphone had been deleted immediately after Deutsch returned it to Newsday.

Maintaining the trust of our readers is essential to our mission. If we are able subsequently to locate any individuals, we will update our stories.

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