President Obama meets with members of his national security team, April 19, 2013. (Pete Souza/White House)
President Barack Obama called Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino on Friday afternoon to express his condolences for an MIT police officer killed overnight during a manhunt for the suspects behind Monday's Boston Marathon bombing, according to a White House official.
MIT police officer Sean Collier, 26, of Somerville, Mass., was shot and killed during the manhunt, and another police officer, Richard H. Donahue Jr., 33, was shot and is in stable condition at Mt. Auburn Hospital, according to the Boston Globe.
Appearing to echo remarks he made Thursday at an interfaith service for the three individuals killed and over 170 injured in Monday's twin bombings at the race's finish line, the official said the president stated in his phone calls that the country is behind the people of Boston and Massachusetts, and that the full force of the government will continue to be made available to them as they pursue those responsible for the attacks.
News of Obama's phone calls to Patrick and Menino were released following a day behind closed doors for the president, as the nation searched for details about suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who is on the run. Tsarnaev's brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was also a suspect and was killed by police during a shootout.
Obama was most recently briefed in the Oval Office by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco in a meeting that ended shortly before 4 p.m. ET.
Earlier in the day, a cadre of top terrorist, homeland security and justice officials briefed the president in the White House Situation Room for an hour on Friday morning about the ongoing situation in Boston, a White House official said.
The complete list of participants who briefed the president and Vice President Joe Biden during that meeting were: Attorney General Eric Holder; FBI Director Robert Mueller; chief of staff Denis McDonough; National Security Adviser Tom Donilon; Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco; Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken; Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco; Deputy National Security Adviser For Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes; Deputy Counsel to the President Avril Haines; and National Security Adviser to the Vice President Jake Sullivan.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Secretary of State John Kerry and CIA Director John Brennan participated by video, the White House official said.
No additional details about that briefing were released by the White House.
Friday's briefings at the White House follows those the president received overnight from his top counterterrorism adviser on the deadly mayhem in Boston and Watertown, the White House said on Friday.
“The President continued to be briefed overnight by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco about developments in the investigation as well as the events in Boston and Watertown, MA,” an official said in a statement emailed earlier to reporters.
Later on Friday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Brennan and Kerry visited the White House for a previously scheduled meeting of national security principals, two White House officials confirmed to Yahoo News, adding that the meeting was not convened to discuss Boston. One official said the meeting did not include the president.
Kerry, speaking in Washington, D.C., Friday morning following a meeting with Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade, said, "I think it’s fair to say that for this entire week, we’ve been in a pretty direct confrontation with evil."
The president on Thursday traveled to Boston to speak at an interfaith service for those injured and killed in the attack, and spoke publicly about the attacks in their immediate aftermath.
At sunrise Friday, Gov. Deval Patrick ordered a shutdown of all public transit, though taxi service is now available in the city of Boston. (Boston Logan Airport is open and under tightened security), and residents in surrounding towns were told to stay indoors as a massive manhunt for the second suspect was underway.
“This situation is grave, and we are trying to protect the public safety,” said Massachusetts State Police Col. Timothy Alben.
The White House official did not return a request for information on whether security had been tightened around the presidential mansion compound either because of the violence in Boston, or because of the anniversaries of the deadly end of the FBI siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, on this day in 1993, or because of the Oklahoma City bombing on this day in 1995.
This story was updated at 12:15 p.m. ET to include the previously-scheduled national security meeting.
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