It’s hard to believe that in April it will be an entire decade since the day the Watertown Police faced the Boston Marathon Bombers in the East End, the shelter-in-place during the hunt for the remaining suspect, and the ultimate capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a boat in the yard of a house on Franklin Street.
Watertown News is collecting the stories and photos of people who saw it firsthand, those who lived in town at the time, and even people who didn’t reside here, but remember that day.
In 2013, I was working for the Patch, and remember awakening not to the sound of gunshots, but to the dings of my cellphones as reporters and editors shot texts back and forth. Imagine my surprise when I realized the Bombers had been tracked down to my town!
My editor told me to go to bed and the others could handle it, but there was no way I was going to get any sleep with the hunt for the Bombers going on in my town. I spent the rest of the night listening to the police scanner, trying to figure out what was going on and where the bombers were hiding.
Then came word that the Governor had locked down Watertown. My wife and I spent a long day sitting inside as police from around the state combed Watertown. It was sort of like a snow day, except it was a clear, sunny day. Oh, and I can still hear the heavy droning of the helicopters flying over head.
I remember the brief exhale at the end of the lockdown that afternoon. Then suddenly hearing some unusual messages on the scanner, followed by the words “shots fired!”
My wife and I got in our car to get as close as we could to the action, but we only made it a few blocks from our home near Watertown Square. Then we waited with dozens of others on Mt. Auburn Street. What seemed like hours later, word spread that they had captured Tsarnaev, and the celebrations began.
We watched dozens of law enforcement vehicles stream out of town along Mt. Auburn Street. I grabbed some video, photos and quotes before racing back to write a story. I collapsed exhausted that night.
The next day I went out and spoke to a woman who had to lie on her floor as police closed in on Tsarnaev in the boat on Franklin Street. I remember visiting Donohue’s, where there was still a festive mood following the capture. (See the story here).
After that experience, my wife and I agreed that we could not see living anywhere else than Watertown.
Share Your Memories
What do you remember from that day? Were you close to the action? What did you do while confined to your home? Do you have any snapshots or videos from that day? Were you at the Marathon finish line that day?
If you didn’t live here, what was your image of Watertown from the coverage of the shootout and manhunt? What is it like to now live in the place that was the focus of the world’s media for a short time?
Do you do anything to mark or commemorate that day?
Share comments below (please use your full name), or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your memories may be used in the article about the 10th anniversary.
I remember the extreme concern everyone had when the news broke that one of the suspects was somewhere in Watertown. I spent quite a bit of time on my front porch in the West End so I could look out to see if I saw anything. I saw a young guy ride by on a bike when no one else was on the street and I thought that probably wasn’t a wise idea for his family to allow him to do this.
I had concerned relatives from other parts of the state call me and ask how close I was to that part of the city where the police were searching. Some of these relatives were ones I had not talked to in a long time. So I guess the good thing about this incident is that it drew people together and raised awareness of how much people cared.
I called a close friend’s elderly mother in the East End when I heard the news that the suspect could be in the area near Cypress St. when I first heard the early breaking news on TV. I suggested she put her outside light on in case the police needed lights in the area to see if anyone was around. The police then actually knocked on her door and asked if she was OK and if they could come in to search inside her house for any possible intruders. Fortunately they searched and found no one and that put her mind at ease.
As we all know, there was so much confusion during this whole event and our police acted so bravely and quickly to be out there to protect us. When there are times when police are blamed for situations, hopefully we’ll all remember this event and similar ones where they put their lives on the line for us in terrifying situations and show them our appreciation.
Thanks for sharing your memories, Joan!
My husband took a photo from our second story East End window that day of a big armored vehicle parked opposite our house. There’s a guy in full protective military gear standing by the vehicle with a machine gun, and he’s waving. Can’t tell if he’s waving “Hello” or “Get away from the window.” My husband titled his photo “Tanks for the Memories.”
I can dig up that photo and send it to you if you’d like.
Thanks Libby, Yes, please send it along if you can find it.