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Dad of 8-year-old Boston bombing victim: ‘Please pray for my family’

BOSTON -- Bill Richard grieves, and the community came to grieve with him.

His son, Martin, 8, is one of the three killed in the twin blasts that rocked the Boston Marathon on Monday. Richard’s wife and daughter were also wounded, and he’s put out a statement asking for everyone to pray.

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“My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston,” said the statement, issued to the media on Tuesday by Liberty Square Group, which represents candidate for U.S. Senate Stephen Lynch. (He’s a friend of the Richard family because his wife worked with Denise at Marion Manor, a rehab center, a spokesman said.)

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“My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries,” the statement continued. “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 privacy as we work to simultaneously grieve and recover. Thank you.”

Neighbors and friends in the quiet Boston neighborhood where the boy lived tried to come to terms with his death Tuesday, bringing flowers and mementos to the family’s home, which police had surrounded with yellow tape by mid-morning.

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Richard’s neighbors in Dorchester told the Los Angeles Times that the boy loved to ride his bike and play with his older brother Henry and younger sister Jane.

“Losing one child is bad enough, having the other ones injured and your wife injured...,” said Jane Sherman, 64, who lives next door, trailing off. “They are a wonderful family and this is a horrific tragedy. I think this is something they won’t recover from.”

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The blasts, which hit on the sidewalks of the race, where crowds had gathered near the finish line on Boylston Street, injured more than 144 people, including a number of children.

The Boston Children’s Hospital said it had treated at least eight children -- some ranging in age from 2 to 14 -- plus one child’s father, 42, and a woman who was transferred to another hospital. Three remained hospitalized, with a boy, 10, and a girl, 9, in critical condition with leg injuries.

Twins Andreas and Alejandro Calderon, 10, came by the Richard house with their parents to lay a soccer ball, signed with their names, on the porch. The boys remembered Martin as a boy, full of energy, who was hopping around the playground at recess, and who scored the winning goal in a championship game last year.

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“When we put him on defense and goalie he would do good, but he would save his energy so when we put him on offense he would go wild,” Andreas said. The Calderon boys’ father, Jose, coached the soccer team.

Families in the neighborhood, which is full of children, also coped with how to explain Martin’s death to their own children. When Andreas found out, he said, he thought, “That’s a bummer and hopefully his family can overcome it.”

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Denise Richard, wounded in the blast, works as a librarian at the Neighborhood House Charter School, which Martin also attended, said Guerline Guillaume, a substitute teacher at the school.

“He’s such a sweet kid and respectful to everyone,” she said. “He always acknowledged everyone.”

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Her children are having trouble processing what happened, she said. One asked if Martin really died, she said. On the neighborhood streets, she urged a few children to ask their parents or her if they had any questions.

“They really took a moment to process this, but it’s new,” she said. “There’s going to be lots of questions coming from them, and the school is trying their best to come with some kind of way for them to process this.”

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Lily Huynh, whose daughter attended preschool with Jane Richard, said that Jane -- the youngest in the family, who was seriously injured in the blast -- is a bit of a tomboy.

“She’s quick and fast -- she has to be, having two brothers,” said Huynh, 44.

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The family always decorated their yard for Halloween, had carved pumpkins, and sometimes Bill Richard would sit by a tree in the family’s front yard and hand out candy. Sometimes, the two boys would walk to school, even though it’s about a mile away, she said.

“It’s a very, nice, active family,” Huynh said. “They always do things together.”

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Huynh, who has three children, said her family usually goes to the finish line to watch the marathon. This year, her 13-year-old son decided he didn’t want to go, so the family watched from home.

“It’s lucky for us but not for others,” she said.

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Margaret Mancuso, 30, has lived in the neighborhood since 1986. Though her kids are just toddlers, she says this has been difficult because the whole neighborhood is full of families.

“The hardest thing is for the kids,” she said. “It’s way too close to home.”

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Lisselott Valdez says she doesn’t know what to tell her children when she still doesn’t know what to think herself.

“I’m scared,” she said. “I don’t want to be in crowded places.”

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In the center of town, which Bill Richard helped rehabilitate, the historic clock on the town square was stopped at 2:50 p.m., the time that blasts ripped through the finish line at the Boston Marathon.

Jeffrey Gonyeau, the keeper of the clock, which dates to 1909, stopped the clock on Tuesday, and was in the process of draping black cloth around the small patch of grass where the clock stands, near the Ashmont T station in Dorchester.

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“They’re really civically involved,” Gonyeau said. “They’re a great family.”

As the former president of the board of directors at St. Mark’s Area Main Street group, Bill Richard was instrumental in helping restore the park, restart the clock, which had stopped, and rehabilitate the 75-year-old T station. New restaurants and businesses have sprung up in part because of Richard’s leadership, and all the while Richard ran his own environmental testing company, Gonyeau said.

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“They’re such an important part of this neighborhood,” he said.

Dan Larner, the current director of the group, said it was preparing a media statement.

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But nearly everyone in the business district, set in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Boston, seems to know Richard. People in the local coffee shop, Flat Black Coffee Co., which is walking distance from Richard’s home, commiserated Tuesday morning about Richard, who often came in to buy coffee in the morning.

“He’s a super nice guy, and very active in the community,” said Anil Nair, who runs a chiropractic business near the clock.

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A candlelight vigil for Martin will be held 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at St. Ann Parish in Dorchester.

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Semuels reported from Boston. Times staff writer Matt Pearce contributed from Los Angeles.

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