Boston explosions mean tougher security at local events

MS-150 and International Festival will see more screening

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HOUSTON - Security will be heightened for all upcoming high profile events in Houston, according to the director of the Houston Mayor's Office for Public Safety and Homeland Security.

Director Dennis Storemski said Monday that the MS 150 bike ride and the Houston International Festival are both considered "soft targets" and in the wake of the Boston bombings, so there will be more screening and security before, after and during the events.

Anti-terrorism expert Joan Neuhaus Schaan said, "The terrorists have wanted to target a soft target like a sporting event for a long time."

She said large indoor and outdoor events have long been attractive to terrorists. She also said any event where there is a small area for maximum damage and exposure is what terrorists look for in a strike site.

"The marathon is so spread out, there is not way you can secure the entire route," Neuhaus said.

Firefighters, paramedics, police officers and federal agents constantly train for the possibility of an attack.  But Boston may yield new insights into security for upcoming events like out own Houston Marathon.

Houston Emergency Management Services Director Doctor David Persse said, "There are a variety of different forms of terrorism we have to prepare for, with every one of those there are dozens of different scenarios."

As for who is behind the Boston explosions, Houston attorney and retired Central Intelligence Agency Officer David Adler said the type of blasts may yield some early clues.

Adler said, for example, since white smoke instead of black smoke was seen billowing, it may be a good indication that the bomb made does not have a high level of sophistication.

"The blast didn't look that large and white smoke is an indication that it may not have been the most powerful type of explosives,"  he said.

However, Adler said the placement of the bombs and timing indicates planning and thought is behind the attack.

"It's a little disturbing that whoever did this was able to get in there, plant this device, obviously set some kind of timer or other kind of triggering device and so far, get away with it," Adler said.

Adler said all of the evidence makes it tough to determine whether or not the bombings were actually an al-Qaeda type of group or some local or homegrown group.

Despite increased security at high profile events, long time federal sources told Local 2 Investigates that so far there has been no indication there are security concerns in the Houston area in relation to the bombings in Boston.

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