April 21, 2013

In Boston, slow return to normalcy

Watertown neighbors share tales of a night of terror followed by euphoria.

By LESLEY CLARK McClatchy Newspapers

WATERTOWN, Mass. - College rowing teams raced down the Charles River on Saturday and news crews began pulling out of the Watertown Mall parking lot, ceding it to weekend shoppers, as a sense of normalcy began returning to communities terrorized by the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.

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For complete coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and manhunt, click here.

In Boston, the Red Sox returned to Fenway Park for the first time since before the explosions, wearing white shirts that read "Boston."

But along Franklin Street, where a wounded and bloodied Dzhokhar Tsarnaev surrendered Friday to police after an exchange of gunfire, investigators were still at work, searching for clues while shaken neighborhood residents looked for consolation.

"It was frightening," said Namita Kiran, 48, who lives on nearby Barnard Avenue and was drawn Saturday to the police barricades, sharing tales with neighbors. Franklin, roped off with police lines, served as a greeting place as neighbors strolled down to see where the week's events had culminated, with kids, dogs, and a cup of coffee in hand.

Like the others, Kiran had spent most of Friday behind closed doors, shades lowered. Watertown police called at 2 a.m. to warn her against going outside after a spectacular shootout with two suspects who'd lobbed explosives and fired scores of shots.

New details emerged throughout the day of the confrontation and search that had paralyzed the region.

Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveaux told CNN Saturday that Dzhokhar Tsarneav probably killed his elder brother, Tamerlan, when he fled during the confrontation with police. Deveaux said officers had subdued Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who'd run out of ammunition, and were handcuffing him when Dzhokhar roared toward them in his escape vehicle, sending the police scattering and crushing his brother under the wheels. Tamerlan was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The younger Tsarnaev abandoned the vehicle, and disappeared into the darkness on foot.

The intensity of the confrontation was startlingly evident Saturday in the Watertown neighborhood where the Tsarnaev brothers faced off with police.

Bullet holes marred at least four houses along Laurel Street, which was pitted and blackened where the Tsarnaevs had hurled explosives at police. Broken glass littered the street.

Shrapnel tears could be seen on the third-floor soffit of one house where a family with a 3-week-old infant had huddled during the battle.

"I don't even know if it's settled in yet," said James Floyd, 36, who moved to the house five months ago from Columbia, S.C. "The fact that no one got hurt is unbelievable" -- a reference to the street's residents.

A bloodstain about 30 feet long, where Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body was dragged, remained visible on the pavement, much bigger at the end than the beginning. Hundreds of curiosity seekers milled about the street.

It was area residents' first chance to view the scene, which had touched off a door-to-door search by thousands of police officers and an unprecedented regionwide lockdown that halted public transportation and business throughout the Boston area.

Many Watertown neighbors had their entire homes swept, with police aware that the town is so friendly that many people don't bother to lock their basement doors. At one point, police searched Kiran's backyard shed.

Nervous, Kiran persuaded her husband to inspect their basement and to check on an elderly neighbor.

"We began to wonder when it would end," she said.

Shortly after police lifted the order to stay at home early Friday evening, Franklin Street homeowner David Henneberry ventured outside his house. He noticed something suspicious about the tarp on the boat in his yard and drew closer to inspect.

"He saw some blood and a body lying down," said neighbor Joe Morrissey. "He told me he jumped up, dialed 911 and there was a cavalcade of police."

Deveaux said police were worried that Tsarnaev was wearing an explosive vest -- as his brother had been the night before. It took the negotiator 20 to 30 minutes to persuade the 19-year-old to lift his shirt so that authorities could see his chest.

"Once we saw that, we felt comfortable enough to send some officers with tactical equipment to go in and grab him and pull him away from the boat so he wouldn't be able to have anything," Deveaux said in the CNN interview.

 

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