Remembering 8-Year-Old Martin Richard, in Chalk, Peace, and Tears

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Miles from the center of the tragedy in Copley Square, a community is mourning one of its own, the boy who was the first of three victims identified in Monday's attack on the Boston Marathon

Reporters filing from the Ashmont section of Boston's Dorchester neighborhood are sharing scenes of a family so tight knight, a community so close — so shaken by the loss of such a little one — that it has become, at least for a little bit today, an epicenter of quiet grief in a city shaken by sudden violence.

Martin Richard was eight years old. He died after injuries suffered during the second of two blasts at the end of the race, which also seriously injured his mother, Denise, and sister, Jane. His father, Bill, was a runner but not a marathon participant. Martin is also survived by his brother Henry. 

The family was described by Evan Allen and John R. Ellement at The Boston Globe as "very close-knit." Neighbors told the Wall Street Journal they were "all-American" and "jolly." They live on what Globe reporter Billy Baker called a "a beautiful street of beautiful houses." A beautiful street that is now symbolic of the tragedy. Neighbor Jane Sherman told the Journal that he saw Bill come home last night: 

"He was in hospital scrubs and he looked like the walking dead. I said, 'Bill, are you OK?' And he didn't answer," she said. "His friend came over and said, 'It was Martin' and I said 'oh my God.' 

Bill Richard issued a statement today: 

"My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston. My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries. We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met, for their thoughts and prayers. I ask that you continue to pray for my family as we remember Martin. We also ask for your patience and for your privacy as we work to simultaneously grieve and recover. Thank you."

And neighbors now have to explain to Martin's schoolmates what happened when they had the day off from school this Patriot Day. A 10-year-old who was in the same school, but not the same class as Martin, told the Globe she was "scared" and added "I never know where they are," referring to the attackers. The Globe's Baker, from a park nearby the family's house, tweeted that parents are "explaining the situation gently." Children in the park have created their own memorial from chalk:

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Chalk also figures into the Richard family story elsewhere: According to the Globe, a neighbor, who last spoke with the family on Easter Sunday, "recalled seeing the children drawing butterflies and flowers with chalk on their driveway. Today, the chalk remained where the children had left it." A chalk drawing also appeared in front of the Richard home. 

In an Associated Press story Martin was remembered by an 80-year-old neighbor, who said he was a "vivacious little kid." In a photo being circulated, Martin holds up this sign, which echoes the word now written in front of his house: 

Ashmont's clock has been stopped at 2:50:

Tweets have indicated that there will be candlelight vigil at a Dorchester church tonight

Inset photos: Associated Press, Billy BakerFacebook

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.