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Opinion

The Podium

A day in lockdown in Watertown

We stood by the window in our living room, watching the SWAT team S-L-O-W-L-Y travel down our street. Men uniformed in camouflage or in black, helmeted, jacketed, carrying large weapons. They fanned out into yards, our yard, up to doors, our door, knocked. I opened the door. A smiling team member — and it was the right thing, because it certainly helped to put us more at ease — made sure we were secure and that the suspect they were seeking was not in our Watertown home.

The previous night, my wife had heard the gunfire and explosions. I was asleep. I awoke and went into the living room. The TV was on, news reports of what had just transpired in our city. My wife gave me a quick rundown. Then we settled in for the next 23 hours. She would not sleep, I caught about 45 minutes.

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The suspect was here, then there, then possibly moving toward us. We watched the news reports, along with the rest of the country, but we were in the middle of what we were seeing on the tube. We switched feverishly between channels, trying to catch the latest bulletins.

We were informed, via reverse 911 call from Watertown Police, that we should not leave our house, do not answer the door, stay away from windows. We were not happy, but we did what was asked.

It seemed like they might have had him cornered on Quimby Street, but it wasn’t so. There were numerous press conferences, continuous loops of film, much conjecture, rumors, guesses. A man was on the ground on Upland Road, many rifles aimed at his head. He was taken into custody, stripped naked. It wasn’t him. We waited some more.

The SWAT team came and went. The reports continued, some hopeful, some discouraging. We were told, by the Chief of Police, that we might be under order to not leave our houses for two or three days. We were downhearted, but understood.

As the evening came again, we were told that the “stay inside ban” had been lifted. We stayed in. We figured it wasn’t really prudent for everyone to go running outside as though we had just been sprung from prison. I ventured a theory to my wife. I said that perhaps they lifted the ban in order to see if he might venture out in some way. While the ban was in effect, nobody was on the streets aside from police and guardsmen. With it lifted, maybe he’d be bold enough to try and get lost.

Not long after the ban was announced as lifted, more gunfire rang out in Watertown. Shots were being fired in the vicinity of Franklin Street. Reports came in, various sources, saying he was cornered. He was — maybe — in a boat in somebody’s backyard. Finally, that was stated as fact. And they moved in, got him, captured him, gravely wounded but alive.

And the final scene, the one that will stay with me and give joy to my heart for a long while, was that of the citizens of Watertown coming out by the hundreds, lining Mount Auburn Street. They cheered every police vehicle, National Guard truck, EMS unit, bomb squad, and other official vehicle involved in the capture. They cheered heartily, lustily, and with a sense of relief that was palpable and fully understood by both of us.

It was the Watertown Marathon. We were cheering those who finished the race.

Jim Sullivan is a resident of Watertown and a freelance writer. He can be reached at suldog@aol.com.

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