Watertown residents recall chaos of manhunt, explosions

Adam Sennott%%Wicked Local Cambridge
Law enforcement officials stake out a roof in Watertown during the search for Dzhokhkar Tsarnaev on Friday, April 19. Wicked Local Staff Photo by Kate Flock

Watertown residents described a chaotic scene of gunfire and explosions last night as authorities gunned down one of the Boston Marathon Bombing suspects and launched a massive manhunt for the second.

State Police, FBI, and local authorities from across Massachusetts killed one of the suspected after a car chase and shootout with police. The second suspect,  identified by the Associated Press as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, fled and is considered armed and dangerous.

Pedro  Saavedra said he was on Newbury Street near MIT when he heard about the reported shooting of an MIT officer and decided to follow the police cruisers heading into Watertown.

“We saw mad cops, we were already checking out the MIT shooting,” Saavedra said. “So we chased them.

“We got here before everything was blocked, and we still didn’t know what was going on. We went over there right where the scene was and they just started pushing us out, ‘get out, get out, get out, not a safe zone.’ They just started pushing us out.”

One witness who asked not to be identified said when he arrived the police were telling the suspect to get down on the ground.

“I could see the street and saw that the cops were all at the end of it with their gun drawn telling the guy to, they were telling him to ‘get down on the ground, on your knees,’” he said. “And then they were backing up, they kept backing up, like the guy maybe had a gun, I don’t know. “

Dan Macdonald said when he first heard police sirens he didn’t think it was a big deal. Then he heard more cruisers go by, gun shot, and even an explosion.

“From the time that I heard the gun shots, which we’re about ten gun shots at first, then there was a lot of cars racing around, sirens,” Dan Macdonald, who lives on  said. “Then I heard about another ten gunshots, followed by 20 to 55 gunshots. The during that time we heard a big boom kind of like a M-80 or dynamite, and you know, it wasn’t a firecracker of [anything] like that.

“Then it was like a little stop,” Macdonald said. “And then it was…two back to back M-80 dynamite sounds and then another one shortly after that.”

Albert Morales, of Elm Street, said he was outside smoking a cigarette when suddenly chaos erupted.

“All of a sudden I heard about 20 shots,” Morales said. “I heard bangs, like booms, like firecrackers at first, but I didn’t know what they were.

“I rushed in the house and turned on the TV and sure enough everything was happening right here in Watertown off Mt. Auburn Street,” Morales said.

Jared Brown, who lives on Broadway Street in Newton, said he heard the explosions and decided to drive to Watertown and check out what was going on. Brown said he heard another loud bang as he was driving up Mt. Auburn Street.

“I heard another one, I don’t know if it was an explosion, I heard another one when I was coming up Mt. Auburn St.” Brown said “Pretty loud, sounded something like a transformer, but [I] wasn’t exactly sure.”

Cecilia Lenk, a Watertown Town Councilor said she woke up this morning to the news that Watertown had been turned into a battleground.

“I’m still not processing this at all,” she said early on Friday morning. “I slept through a late phone call last night and then when I woke up I started getting texts from my family and friends asking if I was ok.”

“That was really horrible, having friends across the world checking in,” she added. “I know the police are doing a great job keeping the streets cleared, but this isn’t how we want our beloved town to be remembered.”