NEWS

On Boston's Near-Empty Streets, Sirens And Empty Storefronts

04/19/2013 02:50 EDT | Updated 06/19/2013 05:12 EDT
In downtown Boston, police stood guard on almost every street corner along Massachusetts Avenue, eyeing closed storefronts and almost empty sidewalks. Residents were urged to stay inside most of the day, while a lockdown was enforced as police hunted for the marathon bombings suspect.

"It’s almost like living in a police state," graduate student Marissa Gilburd said Friday, sitting on the front step of her apartment with her husband, Joe, and sister-in-law Rachael.

"I would rather they do this, though," she said of the police shutdown.

"These guys really knew how to make bombs."

The manhunt for bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ended Friday night when he was found by police in Watertown, a Boston suburb. His brother died early Friday after a gunfight with police.

While the manhunt for Dzhokhar centred on Watertown, which is on the Cambridge side of the Charles River and several kilometres away, the state ordered Boston residents to stay inside for hours. Universities and businesses closed, and taxis were briefly ordered off the roads. By mid-afternoon, home games for the Bruins and Red Sox had been postponed.

- Bruins, Red Sox postpone games due to Boston lockdown

- Locked-down Boston connects online

It's still wasn't a quiet city.

Emergency vehicles became a permanent part of Boston's sound, to the point where it was odd when there wasn't the sound of a helicopter overhead or a convoy of police cars racing to a new site of concern. Since the marathon, anything remotely suspicious merited an emergency response.

'They're afraid'

On Newbury Street, two bomb squad trucks — black pick-up trucks with huge boxes of equipment on the back — roared past construction manager Marcos Pires.

- Boston manhunt of the photos

Pires had been locked out of his Copley Square office, but still came to work Friday, unlike some of his workers.

"Many of my guys didn’t want to work," Pires said. "They’re afraid."

Not everyone stayed inside.

"I’m so sick of waiting around," one woman stopped at a red light during a morning run said. Several people walked their dogs.

- See a map of the Boston manhunt

The Massachusetts Avenue and Newbury Street area is one of Boston’s main shopping destinations and when Boston's universities are open its cafes and stores full of people.

On Friday, nobody was window shopping. Those outside were glued to their phones, checking for news about the manhunt.

'What's the point?'

Memphis resident John Langan, visiting Boston while his wife is at a surgery conference, decided to come out and photograph one of Boylston Street’s memorials for the marathon victims. He had been watching it grow all week, and it left him wondering why bombers went after the marathon.

"I don’t know why someone would do this … I mean, what’s the point?" Langan said, shaking his head.

Langan said he wasn't worried about being out in the Boston streets, despite the gruff warnings from local police. One barked at him: "If I wasn’t here I’d be home, locked in my house."

Langan wasn’t alone in ignoring the police orders. Chris Kourtidis runs Steve's Greek Cuisine, the only restaurant open near Massachusetts Ave. and barely a kilometre from the scene of the marathon blasts.

"We're here, people are coming, so we're open," Kourtidis said, adding he'll stay open until police tell him directly to shut down.

CBC News speaks to Canadians in Boston

CBC News offices across the country have also spoken to Canadians stranded in Boston. Here's a round-up:

- Calgary: Deserted Boston streets 'eerie,' says Calgarian.

- Edmonton: St. Albert students in Boston amidst lockdown.

- Saskatchewan: Sask. man in Boston describes lockdown, manhunt.

- Manitoba: Ex-Winnipegger describes 'post-apocalypic' Boston.

- Windsor: Canadians describe lockdown in Massachusetts manhunt.

- Montreal: Quebec students sit tight near Boston as manhunt continues.

- New Brunswick: 40 New Brunswick tourists stuck in Boston during manhunt.

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