Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau said the estimated $250,000 cost racked up for post-Marathon bombing activities on April 19 will plummet after the town’s insurance company agreed to reimburse the department for three totaled police cruisers.
The insurance reimbursements equal about $105,000, Deveau said Wednesday, and will cover two Ford Taurus cruisers and one Ford Expedition sport utility vehicle that were ruined in the gunfight between police and bombing suspects.
Deveau previously told the Globe that he hoped the federal and state emergency management agencies would reimburse the whole $250,000 amount so no cost would burden the town. Now, he said that amount has dropped to about $145,000.
“It definitely puts a big dent in the amount we’re seeking from MEMA and FEMA,” Deveau said.
The three police cars were damaged beyond repair after the two bombing suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, engaged police in a shootout on Laurel Street.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after the shootout, but Dzhokar Tsarnaev escaped and was captured in Watertown after a daylong manhunt.
“The cars looked like how you would imagine: There were bullets in and through the vehicles, and at least one had its windows blown out from the explosions,” Deveau said. “They were unrepairable.”
One of the sedans, which was brand new and had only 1,000 miles on it, was driven that night by Watertown police Sergeant John MacLellan, one of the first officers to arrive at the scene of the gunfight.
At a recent community forum, MacLellan and Deveau recalled the strategy that annihilated the cruiser, but saved MacLellan’s life.
MacLellan said in a interview after the forum that during the gunfight, he reached for his patrol rifle but could not use it. “Your dexterity is shot because of adrenaline,” he said.
As the Tsarnaev brothers kept shooting at the front of his car, MacLellan had to think quickly, so he put his foot on the brake, threw the cruiser into drive, and let it ride forward as he used the cover of darkness to jump out and escape the gunfire.
“I sent it toward them, and they just kept wasting ammo on it,” he said. “Then they had a bomb, and as it got closer they threw it at the car, blowing out the windows on the passenger’s side.”
However, MacLellan was nervous to tell the chief what happened. “Under normal circumstances, I could be fired for that,” he said.
But at the forum, Deveau laughed as he recalled when MacLellan confronted the chief about what happened, fearing disciplinary action for abandoning and ruining the car.
“I said, ‘John . . . that was brilliant,’” Deveau told the crowd. “He said, ‘You’re not mad at me?’ and I said ‘No, I want to hug you!’ They don’t teach that at the academy, but they will now.”
Though the cost of the events left the department with a rather large debt, both Deveau and MacLellan agreed that it was worth it.
“It could have gone so much worse,” MacLellan said.