PDT Staff Writer
Keith Pixley lives in Brighton, Mass., directly across the Charles River from Watertown, where he used to live and where he drives every day on his way to work. On Friday, he was watching on the television as police closed in on a stored boat in the backyard of his former neighborhood where one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was hiding.
Fortunately for those in the Boston metropolitan area, the phrase “Suspect in custody” flashed across computer screens and televisions Friday evening.
“I can’t believe they found the guy on Franklin Street,” Pixley said. “It’s just weird to think about. You see stuff like this on the news but you don’t picture it happening right next to your home.”
A Boston-wide lockdown order was in place due to a Thursday night carjacking and shootout in Watertown in which police killed the first of two suspects involved in the Boston Marathon bombing. Before reaching Watertown, the two bombing suspects — identified as brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar, 19, both of Cambridge, Mass. — shot and killed Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer Sean Collier.
The shootout in Watertown — which reportedly included another pressure cooker explosive device and several pipe bombs — ended with the escape of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the death of his brother and a transit officer being severely wounded.
Another burst of activity came late Friday at the end of a tense day in and around Boston, and less than an hour after police announced that they were scaling back the hunt and lifting the Boston-wide lockdown order because they had come up empty-handed following an all-day search that sent thousands of SWAT team officers into the streets and paralyzed the metropolitan area.
Pixley and many others spent their day locked up and glued to the Boston area news outlets.
“It’s just weird to see that they’re there, and now they (police) have been saying nobody should leave,” Pixley said Friday afternoon. “I saw where they took the first guy down and they had him on the ground, and this is all happening on a road I’ve driven many times. Now nobody can drive in Watertown. All the roads are shut down. You can’t go in or out. Since nobody is supposed to leave, I haven’t left my house. So I’m just hanging out hoping to hear some good news.”
Chuck Krumroy, who lives in Cambridge, Mass., was in the same situation. Krumroy, a close friend of First Ward City Councilman Kevin Johnson, works in the financial district of Cambridge, Mass.
He also was asked to stay locked in until officials reopened the city a little after 6 p.m. Friday.
“We woke up to it this (Friday) morning,” Krumroy said. “We had gone to bed early last night (Thursday) before any of this was breaking news.”
Pixley had a similar experience.
“Last night (Thursday) I went to bed at 10 o’clock, and as odd as it may seem, my fiancee woke me up probably about midnight,” Pixley said. “I live on kind of a main road that connects Watertown, Brighton, into Cambridge, and the local television station is right down the street from me. And since we’re on a main street, there was a parade of police vehicles flying by at midnight. She woke me up and said, ‘I don’t know what’s happening, but I think something is going on,’ and as I sat up I began to get text messages on my phone from (Daily Times Content Manager) Bob (Strickley), and I don’t know how he knew what was going on before I even woke up.”
Strickley said he had been listening to Boston Police radio transmissions and following updates of Boston area journalists on Twitter. Pixley said he had been keeping up to date using the online radio scanner services, but the time came when police chose to shut that system down.
Krumroy reported the entire Boston area was on shutdown most of Friday and that included all mass transit, with the taxi system being the last to be halted. It is the first time the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has been shutdown due to a non-weather related event.
“They have now extended the lockdown area to include the entire city of Boston,” Krumroy said. “That’s really huge. This is really unprecedented in Boston. The governor is saying to everyone in the city of Boston, the city of Cambridge, the city of Watertown, the city of Waltham, and the city of Belmont and the city of Arlington, to shelter in place. If you already have made it to your office, you’re supposed to shelter in place there until they release it. The entire MBTA transit system, including all commuter rails and ferries, apparently stopped.”
After a stagnation of the search progress, the lockdown was lifted and authorities came in contact with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev soon after.
Boston Mayor Tom Menino confirmed to WBZ-TV the suspect was holed up in a boat parked in the backyard. The Associated Press said reporters were being kept away from the scene.
“Hopefully this is the end of it,” Pixley said. “It will be good to get things back to normal. It’s been a week of looking over your shoulder not sure what you are going to see.”
And it was the end of it. Multiple media outlets reported around 8:45 p.m. Friday that authorities had taken Dzhokhar Tsarnaev into custody.
Earlier in the week Krumroy and Pixley were separately enjoying a source of great pride in Boston, Patriot Day.
Krumroy said his first thoughts when he heard about the bombing at the Boston Marathon were about the pain suffered by those near the bombing, “and how awful it is to have that kind of carnage in the middle of what is Boston’s best day (Patriot Day), every year. Everyone pulls together around the marathon. Everyone supports the runners. I usually go over to my brother’s house, and we go to an area called ‘Heartbreak Hill,’ and everybody cheers the runners on.”
Pixley and his fiancee were at about Mile 24 along the route looking for friends who were running in the marathon.
“Around the time that it happened we were in a restaurant, and it came on the news,” Pixley said. “There were already police officers all over the place, and then all of the police officers started moving away from the area where we were. Then it was on the news almost right away. Then people were running by. The people that were still in the race obviously didn’t know because it took a few minutes to figure out what was going on. At first we didn’t know if it was a transformer that blew up or it was an accident. Then, after a few minutes when it starting becoming much more clear that it wasn’t an accident, we walked back to where we live in Brighton.”
The bombings on Monday near the finish line killed three people and wounded more than 180, tearing off limbs in a spray of shrapnel and sparking fears across the nation that another terrorist attack had come to U.S. soil.
Updates are available at portsmouth-dailytimes.com.
Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.