The father of 8-year-old bomb victim Martin Richard had tried to shield the eyes of the boy's brother, 12-year-old Henry, as the carnage unfolded around them. The explosion that killed his younger son, Martin, seriously wounded his wife and daughter.
Denise Richard, 43, suffered a severe head injury and Jane, 6, lost a leg, while cheering on the Boston marathon runners, after the second of two bombs exploded near the finish.
Yesterday Barack Obama visited the city and told a congregation of thousands in its cathedral "our hearts are broken" for the Richard family and for Martin, whose "last hours were as perfect as an 8-year-old boy could hope for - with his family, eating ice cream at a sporting event".
Paying tribute to his "big smile and bright eyes", Obama said Martin would be remembered not by the violence of the day, but by the pictures released this week of him enjoying a Boston Bruins ice hockey match and painting in a classroom.
"We're left with two enduring images of this little boy," Obama said. "Forever smiling for his beloved Bruins and forever expressing a wish he made on a blue poster board: 'No more hurting people. Peace'."
It is the story of Martin, a bright boy who loved riding his bicycle and climbing trees in the suburb of Dorchester, that has most disturbed residents of a city trying to recover from an attack that killed three and wounded 174. Bill Forry, a close friend of the Richard family and an editor at the local newspaper, said in an article yesterday that Martin was an "adorable" boy who still held his mother's hand when they walked to the grocery shop to buy milk.
"Martin Richard was a little boy who charmed his teachers, annoyed his sister, and roughhoused with his big brother," he said. "He could be mischievous, but was old-school polite with his elders and peers.
"He wanted to be a hockey goalie, even though he wasn't yet a hockey player," Forry wrote. "When he wasn't scoring touchdowns and batting homers, he liked to stargaze and learn astronomy from his next-door neighbours, who in Dorchester are like family even if there's no relation."
Peter Guiney, 39, an estate agent raised on the same street as Martin, described it as "the perfect place for a boy to grow up.
"I just can't bear to think of Bill, seeing what he has seen and remembering it every day," he said, after delivering flowers to the Richard house.
"But if one neighbourhood can get him through this, it's this one."
- Telegraph Group Ltd