“Nothing ever happens in Watertown,” said local resident Peter Robertson — except, of course for Friday night’s dramatic manhunt and subsequent arrest of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Watertown, Mass., is one of the smallest Boston suburbs. On Thursday night its quiet streets of low-slung homes and buildings were punctured as the two brothers believed to be behind the marathon bombing led police on a high-speed chase, exchanged gunfire and even set off several small explosives.
When the younger Tsarnaev was caught Friday night, the city took to the streets to celebrate. “It was like we won the World Series,” one woman said.
- The chaotic search for the Boston Marathon bomb suspects
Canadian Diane Ah-Kine, an optometrist living in Watertown, looked on Thursday night as SWAT teams, national guardsmen, and police filled School Street in front of her home. By Friday sharp shooters were stationed on nearby rooftops, helicopters roared overhead, and, like everyone else living in the search zone, she was locked in her house.
On Saturday, Ah-Kine was one of many neighbours surveying the damage left behind. On Laurel Street, several people photographed the stain where police said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ran over his brother Tamerlan, who later died of his injuries.
“It’s kind of disturbing,” Ah-Kine said.
- Eyewitnesses capture shootout and lockdown on camera in real time
- Amateur online sleuthing: Does it do more harm than good?
Others still seemed charged up by the manhunt drama. Rob Mullen’s house on Laurel Street has a bullet lodged in its window. “I got more,” Mullen offers happily.
The world’s media has descended on Watertown, hot on the heels of the authorities. Mullen and another neighbour swap tales of being interviewed by various media outlets, while a block away Deanna Finn boasts about turning down ABC's Diane Sawyer — she’s fine with Canadian media, though.
“Everything happened so fast,” Finn said on the front porch of her house at the corner of Walnut and Franklin Streets, less than half a block from the scene of Tsarnaev’s arrest.
Across Franklin Street and behind the police line, Finn’s young son and another boy playfully chased each other around. “Kids are amazing,” she said, shaking her head.
“He likes to talk about it [the marathon bombing] when we’re alone.”
Under her feet is a chalk drawing of the blue and yellow ribbon that’s come to symbolize Boston relief that her son drew with the words “Boston Strong.” It prompts a smile from most who pass by today.
‘Fog of war’
But as Watertown Police are toasted on national television and attention is lavished upon the normally “boring,” “sleepy,” “quiet” (all words used by residents to describe their home) community, the investigation continues.
FBI investigators pick through backyards on Franklin Street, trying to pick up any further evidence about Tsarnaev. State troopers still stand guard by two barriers on Franklin, stopping everyone but people living on the street from getting a look at the now famous boat.
- Photos show joy, relief in Boston as suspect caught
Two residents, who declined to give their names, said they hid in a closet together when gunfire rang out last night. Today, they were heading out for a drive somewhere away from the city and crowds.
Robertson, who lives a few blocks from Franklin Street and also has family in Comox, B.C., said the uncertainty of the situation bothers him.
“Right now there’s a fog of war,” he said. “Nobody really knows exactly what happened.”
Robertson said he’s surprised authorities relied on helicopters equipped with high-powered sensors instead of deploying sniffer dogs to track the scent of Tsarnaev’s blood.
His partner Debbie Rosen, walking the family dog Bella in the cool spring sun, didn’t appear to mind as much.
“I had such a great night’s sleep last night … I was so glad they caught him,” Rosen said, adding while they were just down the street they couldn’t watch the takedown.
“You see lights, you hear shots, but you may as well be watching TV,” she said.
Life in Watertown is still far from normal – it’s not clear how long authorities will need to probe the arrest scene, or how long the media will stick around – but like Boston, it’s getting there.