"They were looking in the crowd as the runners were coming to see if they could identify some of their friends when the bomb hit," said U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, a friend of the family for 25 years.
Martin Richard was a typical 8-year-old boy who loved to ride his bike, climb and play baseball, a neighbor said."They're your all-American family, you know, three kids, mother, father, they used to play outside all the time, the kids were outside all the time having a good time," said neighbor Jane Sherman. "It's just a horrendous tragedy."
As the young victim waited with his mother and sister near the finish line, two bombs blew up seconds apart. Martin's mother, Denise, and a 6-year-old sister were seriously injured.
"What a gift. To know him was to love him," said longtime friend Judy Tuttle, who remembered sitting at the dining room table having tea with Denise Richard while Martin did his homework. "He had that million-dollar smile and you never knew what was going to come out of him. Denise is the most spectacular mother that you've ever met and Bill is a pillar of the community. It doesn't get any better than these people."
The boy's father, Bill Richard, and an older brother were not seriously injured. Lynch said doctors removed ball bearings from Bill Richard's leg.
"My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston. My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries," Bill Richard said in a statement. "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."
Counselors were being made available Tuesday to staff and students at the Neighborhood House Charter School, where Denise Richard worked as a librarian and Martin and his sister were students.
ABC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.