Police presence to increase at Tillman race

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Organizers for a run in honor of former NFL star turned soldier Pat Tillman are increasing security measures in the wake of the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon.

The Tempe Police Department is increasing the number of officers that will work Pat's Run on Saturday and is working with multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, to provide a stronger security presence.

The Pat Tillman Foundation, which operates the 4.2-mile run, has banned backpacks, bags and luggage for the race to prevent suspicion or fear.

"As we move forward for the 9th Annual Pat's Run, the Tillman Foundation is working closely with the city of Tempe and Tempe Police, Arizona State University, Arizona State University Police Department and additional security to ensure the safety of all our runners and supporters on the ground this weekend," the Tillman Foundation said in a statement. "Increased security measures are being put into place as we move forward with the race."

Three people, including an 8-year-old boy, were killed and more than 180 were injured on Monday, when a pair of bombs went off within seconds of each other near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Law enforcement officials killed one of the suspects, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and the city of Boston was all but been shut down as they searched for his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar, considered the second suspect in the bombings.

The attack took place on Patriots Day, one of Boston's biggest civic holidays, and officials are taking precautions against the possibility of another attack at the race that honors Tillman, the former NFL player who left a multi-million-dollar contract and was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan.

More than 30,000 participants and volunteers will gather for the run that raises money for the Tillman Foundation and winds through the streets of Tempe before finishing in Sun Devil Stadium.

Tempe Police are collaborating with the FBI, the Maricopa county Sheriff's office, the Chandler Police Department and officials at Arizona State University to provide security for the race.

Tempe Police officials say they plan to use every available resource to keep people safe during the run and along the course, including officers on foot, motorcycles, possibly bicycles and horseback, along with command vans, bomb-detecting dogs and specialty units.

Law enforcement officials also are asking the participants, volunteers and people along the course to keep an eye out for any suspicious person, activity or item and report it to police immediately.

Pat's Run began with a group of Tillman's family and friends running in his honor following his death in 2004. It has since turned into the major fundraiser for the Tillman Foundation, which has raised over $5 million to help servicemen and their families.

This year's run has taken on added meaning for many participants in light of the attack at the Boston Marathon.

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