Amid blasts, Watertown resident recorded shoot-out

Essdras M. Suarez/Globe Staff

“I heard and felt it go off,’’ Andrew Kitzenberg said of a blast near his home in Watertown. “The walls were rattling.’’

By Jaclyn Reiss Globe Correspondent 

For Andrew Kitzenberg, late Thursday was a night of routine as he settled on his couch on the second floor of his three-story walkup in Watertown to watch a hockey game.

Early Friday morning was anything but routine.


“It sounded like fireworks or firecrackers — you know, ‘pop-pop-pop-pop,’ ” Kitzenberg said on Tuesday, recalling the gun battle outside his door.

Kitzenberg ran up to his bedroom on the third floor, lay on his bed stomach-down, and peeked out of his window, taking pictures with his phone. Kitzenberg, who has lived on Laurel Street in Watertown for three years, had landed an unexpected front-row seat to a shoot-out between the two Chechen brothers identified as Boston Marathon bombing suspects and police.

As events unfolded, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, would be killed, shot by police then run over by his younger brother, Dzhokhar, 19, in his desperate attempt to escape. Dzhokhar was arrested the next evening in a boat parked behind a house on Franklin Street.

Kitzenberg tweeted his photos, and has now doubled his Twitter followers to nearly 30,000, he said. The New York Times called him immediately, and by 3 a.m. Friday, other media outlets were hoping to interview him. Kitzenberg recently put his photos in a blog to better describe what he saw.

Shortly after the gunfire began, Kitzenberg said, he watched the two suspects hurl explosives at police. He said they threw two smaller explosive devices, then reached into a backpack — Kitzenberg said he saw up to three backpacks at their feet — and pulled out a larger device, which police later identified as a bomb in a pressure cooker.


“I saw them light that one — I saw the spark,” Kitzenberg said. He pointed to a black spot on the street about 15 feet away to show where the bomb detonated. “I heard and felt it go off.”

Kitzenberg noted that he dropped down to his floor once he saw the spark. “The walls were rattling. At that point, I absolutely knew these were the guys who did the Boston Marathon bombs.”

Kitzenberg said the two brothers were using a black SUV in front of them for protection, as the officers opened fire at the other end of his block. The brothers also had a green sedan behind them, but Kitzenberg said he did not see any police coming from that direction.

During the shoot-out, Kitzenberg said, a bullet pierced the wall of another bedroom on the second floor, went through a calendar, and lodged in a desk chair.

After the pressure cooker bomb, one of the brothers — now known as Tamerlan — began walking through the smoke toward police, shooting his handgun at them, Kitzenberg said, until he went down.

Kitzenberg said it was hard to tell if a bullet or a tackle by an officer took Tamerlan down, but what happened next stunned him.


“I saw the other guy get into the black SUV, turn it around, and just charge toward the police barricade,” Kitzenberg said. “I was so shocked he would do that move. I felt like I was seeing something right out of a movie.”

Dzhokhar drove the vehicle through two police cars, side-sweeping them as he barreled through, Kitzenberg said.

“I was feeling mostly shock and adrenaline,” said Kitzenberg, who owns a start-up cellphone accessories firm in Waltham.

He declined to comment on whether the FBI had contacted him for information on what happened.

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at