The final day of May 2021 also marked the final day in a long career for one of the heroes of the Watertown Police Department who faced off with the Boston Marathon Bombers.
Sgt. Jeff Pugliese worked his final shift on Memorial Day, and received congratulations from family, friends and fellow officers at the Watertown Police Station. A third-generation police officer, he retires after more than 41 years on the Watertown Police. He would have liked to have served longer, but the state requires police officers to retire at age 65.
The best part of being a police officer is helping people and saving lives, Pugliese told WCVB. He added that it is because of police officers in Watertown, and other communities, that people can sleep soundly at night “because there are police officers willing to sacrifice their lives for them.”
Local police officer, hero of Marathon bomber standoff retires after 41-year career https://t.co/q1bE1gmfg2— WCVB-TV Boston (@WCVB) May 31, 2021
On April 19, 2013, Pugliese put his life on the line when he heard on the radio that his colleagues were taking fire from two men, who they later learned were the suspects in the Boston Marathon Bombings.
Pugliese had been finishing up reports at the Police Station when the report came in. He jumped into his family’s minivan and raced across Town to the intersection of Dexter Street and Laurel Avenue in East Watertown.
As he arrived, a pressure-cooker bomb thrown by the Tsarnaevs went off about 30 feet away. Pugliese recalled feeling the blast and seeing white smoke coming from the bomb. To get a better shot at the bombers, Pugliese hopped the fence of a nearby home and went through several backyards before emerging near the Tsarnaevs. He emerged and stood less than 10 feet away from Tamerlan, the older Tsarnaev, and they traded shots but neither went down.
Pugliese said he doesn’t know how he was not hit, and recalled that an arc of bullet holes were found in a wall behind him. He hit the suspect multiple times, but Tsarnaev was still able to run away. Pugliese chased him down and tackled him.
For his role in the capture of the Boston Marathon Bombers, Pugliese received the Congressional Badge of Bravery and the Trooper George Hanna Memorial Award for Bravery — the highest honor given to police in Massachusetts, said Watertown Police Chief Michael Lawn.
His story was captured in the movie “Patriots Day,” in which he was played by actor J.K. Simmons. The Oscar winner took part in the farewell video for Pugliese, and recalled how the Watertown Police sergeant showed him how to hold a gun and showed him “the ropes of police work.”
The movie came out in 2016, and Pugliese and his wife attended the premiere in Boston, as well as going to L.A. for the Hollywood premiere. Director Peter Berg used Pugliese’s Watertown home in the film.
See the WCVB report by clicking here.