When the first explosion went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Marsha Quimby immediately thought of the cannon that marks a Cadet score at Fort Frye High School football games.
"I personally thought that it was maybe a small cannon for celebration," said Quimby, 61, of Beverly.
Then came the second blast.
The Associated Press
Boston University student Joy Liu places a note at a memorial on the campus for Boston Marathon bombing victim Lu Lingzi in Boston Wednesday.. Lu and two friends had been watching the Boston Marathon near the finish line.
"That's when people really started to realize something was going on," she said.
Quimby was "literally halfway in between each explosion on the opposite side of the street" waiting for her husband Roger to finish the course.
"I actually saw the bombs explode and the smoke," she said.
Boston official: Video footage shows bomb suspect
By Denise Lavoie
The Associated Press
BOSTON - In what could be a major break in the Boston Marathon case, investigators are on the hunt for a man seen in a department-store surveillance video dropping off a bag at the site of the bombings, a Boston politician said Wednesday.
Separately, a law enforcement official confirmed that authorities have found an image of a potential suspect but don't know his name.
The development - less than 48 hours after the attack that left three people dead and more than 170 wounded - marked a possible turning point in a case that has investigators analyzing photos and videos frame by frame for clues to who carried out the twin bombings and why.
City Council President Stephen Murphy, who said he was briefed by Boston police, said investigators saw the image on surveillance footage they got from a department store near the finish line, and matched the findings with witness descriptions of someone leaving the scene.
"I know it's very active and very fluid right now - that they are on the chase," Murphy told The Associated Press. He added: "They may be on the verge of arresting someone, and that's good."
The bombs were crudely fashioned from ordinary kitchen pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails and ball bearings, investigators and others close to the case said. Investigators suspect the devices were then hidden in black duffel bags and left on the ground.
As a result, they were looking for images of someone lugging a dark, heavy bag.
One department store video "has confirmed that a suspect is seen dropping a bag near the point of the second explosion and heading off," Murphy said.
A law enforcement official who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity and was not authorized to discuss the case publicly confirmed only that investigators had an image of a potential suspect whose name was not known to them and who had not been questioned.
The turn of events came with Boston in a state of high excitement over conflicting reports of a breakthrough.
A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told the AP around midday that a suspect was in custody. The official, who was not authorized to divulge details of the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the suspect was expected in federal court. But the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in Boston said no arrests had been made.
As police directed her and other spectators away from the area, she didn't look around much. Two things were on her mind - finding her husband and whether another explosion was coming.
"Was there a third one on down somewhere? Are there more of these that's going to go off?" Quimby said.
She was able to see far enough down Boylston Street to know Roger wasn't nearby, so she knew he hadn't been hurt by the explosions.
But Roger Quimby had no idea whether his wife was safe.
"I never finished the race," Roger, 61, said Wednesday shortly after the couple returned home to Beverly. "All the runners and everybody just stopped there on the road."
Stopped about three-quarters of the mile from the finish line, it didn't take long for them to hear what had happened.
"My wife was at the start/finish line, and I immediately started to look for someone with a cell phone," Roger said.
One woman dialed Marsha's number but the call went straight to voicemail. Another sent her a text message, letting her know Roger was OK and asking her to meet him at their hotel. She had to go look for someone else, leaving Roger still wondering where Marsha was as he tried to make his way to get his own phone and bags.
"I was worried sick," he said. "I knew there were two explosions ... at the start/finish line. That's all I knew."
It took more than an hour for Roger to make contact with Marsha by text message, and longer still for them to actually be reunited. Law enforcement officers were checking their hotel, the Westin Copley Place, and a walkway connecting it to a nearby mall for more possible explosives and wouldn't let anyone in or out.
Marsha said she didn't see much of the explosion sites because she was concentrating on finding Roger. She did recall seeing lines of people six or seven deep at the finish line prior to the blasts, with some moving forward as others left with friends and family who finished the race.
Once they did get back together Monday evening, the couple didn't change their plans to go sightseeing in Boston the next day.
"It was just kind of the opinion of all the Boston people that this is not going to stop what's going on and they're not going to scare us," Marsha said.
She said a number of marathon participants remained and made it a point to wear their race T-shirts and jackets.
Security remained heightened on Tuesday around the city.
"There were still people walking around our hotel with guns," Roger said, referring to S.W.A.T. personnel carrying assault rifles. "They were searching vehicles, opening trunks going into the Copley Marriott (another nearby hotel)."
The Quimbys said they didn't feel any hesitation about remaining in Boston. Likewise, they aren't altering their plans to go to Cincinnati in three weeks where Roger, a veteran runner who first competed in the Boston Marathon in 2010, will participate in the half-marathon portion of that city's Flying Pig Marathon the first weekend in May.
"You just can't stop living your life because some stupid person or persons think that they have to prove something," Marsha said.