Mourners and well-wishers left flowers and other mementos early Tuesday for a loving "all-American" family struck by the Boston Marathon bombings, which claimed the life of their "adorable little boy."
Martin Richard, 8, was killed standing by the finish line with his family Monday afternoon.
Richard's mother, Denise, suffered a brain injury in the blast, and his 6-year-old sister reportedly lost a leg. William Richard, the father, told a local official that his daughter would have died if not for the heroic efforts of first-responders.
Friends and neighbors in the Richards' middle-class neighborhood of Dorchester, Mass. were stunned by the family's loss.
They are a "typical, all-American, lovely family," neighbor Margaret Admirand said, choking back tears.
"It's devastating. He was an adorable little boy," she added. "It's very hard to talk about. He was a sweet little kid."
Martin's sister who lost a leg in the blast had run in a kid's race on Saturday, said neighbor Beth Nagy. She had won a medal and was "all excited," Nagy said.
Jane Sherman, the family's next-door neighbor, described Martin as a "happy-go-lucky" little boy who was always outside playing basketball, hockey, soccer, or riding his bike.
"The whole thing is just devastating to everybody," Sherman said. "It's just a tremendous loss."
Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts described what happened at the marathon after speaking to the dad.
"The kids were all up on the barrier" as runners streamed in, Lynch said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "They were all focused forward and the blast came from the back and the side."
"The dad is a runner, but he wasn't running yesterday," Lynch said. "They were there to support some of their friends who were running."
Friend of the family James Keefe told the Dorchester Reporter he was near the finish line when the blasts went off.
"I heard this earth-shattering boom. I turned and saw this plume and then I heard a second bomb, just as loud and earth-shattering," Keefe said. "I almost blacked out from fear."
The boy's father was on a neighborhood committee to refurbish the Ashmont T station, said friend Kevin Skinner. He served on the board of directors of St. Mark's Area Main Street, according to the community organization's website.
"If it was a car accident you would say it was tragic," Skinner said. "But this didn't have to happen."
Friends of the family gathered at Tavolo Restaurant on Monday night in Dorchester to grieve. Denise Richard worked at the local Neighborhood House Charter School, The Associated Press reported, where the kids attended.
"We think of the Richard family as one unit," said Bill Forry, editor of the local Dorchester Reporter and a friend of the family said on Tuesday. "For them not to be one now is the hardest thing for us to get our heads around. In addition to the grief of losing Martin, it's that that family has been so badly wounded. "
"They are beloved by this community. They contribute in many ways. That's why you see this outpouring," City Councilor at Large Ayanna Pressley told the Boston Globe. "It's surreal, it's tragic, it's incomprehensible. Everyone here tonight is trying to comfort one another and be prayerful."
On the stoop of the family's home, a few bouquets and a small stuffed bear had been left. One word was written in chalk on the front walk: "Peace."