Massachusetts Senate Candidate Gabriel Gomez crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon in four hours, eight minutes and was on his way to meet his family.
But a little more than a minute after finishing the 26-mile run, the former Navy Seal heard an all too familiar sound.
"You hear a lot of commentators talking about you have to hold people like this accountable, sure that's one way of saying it, but as a former seal, we have other terms to describe what needs to happen to whoever did this."
- Gabriel Gomez, Senate Candidate for Massachusetts
"I heard the explosion and I saw the smoke coming up," Gomez told Fox News Latino. "It brought me back to a place I was 20 years ago to the day. I've heard that kind of explosion before, and you could tell it wasn't a good thing."
Gomez, 47, is used to combat situations. He is one of the few who have ever served as a Navy aircraft carrier pilot and Navy Seal officer. When the bombs went off on Monday in Boston, he knew he had to react.
"I'm used to this stuff when I was on the Seal teams, when it was just me and the guys," he said.
But this time, innocent people – including his family and friends – were involved.
Cornered off by emergency responders a block and a half away from the finish line, Gomez could think of nothing more than his wife and four children, ages 8, 10, 11 and 13. He also began worrying about his campaign staff. Gomez, in the middle of a Republican primary, had just spent four hours jogging and shaking hands with thousands of people. He has temporarily suspended his campaign as a result of the attacks.
He was the only senate candidate to run in the Boston Marathon.
"They were supposed to meet me at a rendezvous point," Gomez said of his family, just past the finish line. Just moments before the blasts, three or four blocks before the finish line, Gomez had stopped to share hugs and handshakes with friends and family including his wife and four children.
"My heart was just beating," Gomez, a Republican, explained. "I'm torn...what I wanted to do was obviously go help, but I was also concerned about where my wife and kids were."
There was no reception on his cell-phone and police would not let him go anywhere.
Gomez was desperate to find his family because he knew that secondary explosions were in many cases more dangerous than the first blast. Finally, a friend of his made contact via cellphone with his wife and kids who were in their car.
The reality of the situation set in afterward. News of the death of an 8-year-old boy hit home for Gomez, who also has an 8-year-old son.
"My heart goes out to the victims and the family of the victims," said Gomez, who spoke to his kids that night. "You just got to remind them that there is more good then evil, and in the end, good is better than evil and they'll win."
They'll win, Gomez said, thanks to the men and women in uniform.
"I think these people are going to find out they messed with the wrong city, they messed with the best city in the country, and they are going to get tracked down and they are going to get caught," he explained.
"You hear a lot of commentators talking about how you have to hold people like this accountable. Sure, that's one way of saying it. But as a former Seal, we have other terms to describe what needs to happen to whoever did this."
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