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Watertown split on plan to re-create Marathon scene

Jean McDonald, a resident of Laurel Street in Watertown, where the Marathon shootout occurred, supports the idea of a movie production on her street.
Jean McDonald, a resident of Laurel Street in Watertown, where the Marathon shootout occurred, supports the idea of a movie production on her street.Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

WATERTOWN — David Henneberry is done with all of it.

With the gawkers who drive past his house on Franklin Street, pointing; with reporters on his doorstep; and, certainly, with the idea that the makers of "Patriots Day," a film about the Marathon bombings, should use his property to re-create the harrowing shootout of April 19, 2013.

That was the day that a manhunt shut down the region and Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was discovered in the boat Henneberry stored behind his house.

Re-creating those events?

"Not interested in it at all," Henneberry said in a brief interview on his front porch Tuesday. "I don't need it. I don't want it."


Location managers for "Patriots Day," a film about the bombings starring Mark Wahlberg, recently asked residents of two Watertown neighborhoods for permission to film the pivotal moments of the search for the bombers: the shootout with police on Laurel Street, which left one bomber dead, and the capture late on the same day of the other bomber in Henneberry's boat.

Franklin Street, where Henneberry lives, was dropped from the proposed plan after meeting opposition, according to Henneberry and a town official. But Laurel Street is still in the running — and many residents on Tuesday said they support the plan, and hope it gets the green light from the town.

"It happened here, so film it here," said Jean MacDonald, who has lived on Laurel Street her whole life.

MacDonald recalled looking out her window in the early morning hours of April 19 after the shooting stopped to see wounded bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in handcuffs lying at the bottom of her driveway.

"I think it would be very exciting," she said. "How often do they film a movie in front of your house? I'm retired. I plan on watching it."


Laurel Street in Watertown.
Laurel Street in Watertown.Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Filming in the area would span several days, including preparation and wrap work, tentatively planned for late April and early May of this year, according to a flier given by the production company to residents and provided to the Globe. Filming itself would occur overnight for about a week and would include simulated gunfire, though not past midnight.

Filmmakers declined to comment Tuesday.

One official associated with the film said that the community in the Laurel Street neighborhood was very supportive of the idea, and that people in the neighborhood had asked filmmakers to do the filming there.

During the Laurel Street shootout, Transit Police Officer Richard "Dic" Donohue was seriously wounded, Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after being shot by police and run over by his brother, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev fled, prompting officials to lock down the Greater Boston area while they searched for him.

Many on the narrow street lined with two-family homes still remember the "bang-bang-bang-BOOM" of gunshots and bomb explosions, and there are still bullet holes visible in at least one property. Still, many said Tuesday that they did not expect to be rattled .

Christine Yajko said the only member of her family who would be spooked would be her 3-year-old golden retriever, Remington, who was just a puppy when the street erupted in violence that April night. But, Yajko said, the filmmakers had offered to put him up in a pet hotel.

"The guys were real nice from production," she said. The filmmakers also offered the neighborhood's human residents accommodations at hotels, residents said.


The residents on the street who supported the filming said they thought it was important that filmmakers be true to the events of that night.

"I feel there's some obligation to the police officers," said one resident who declined to give his name to protect his privacy. "The Watertown and MBTA police should be represented the way it happened. . . . The actual location? I think that's important."

Steve Magoon, Watertown's assistant town manager, said town officials would wait to hear the views of more Laurel Street residents. before deciding on whether to grant the filmmakers a permit. Officials would also have to work out practical issues, he said, including parking, staging, and police details.

Magoon said he had heard from some residents on both sides of the issue in e-mails. Those in favor, he said, thought the night of the shootout was an important historical moment for the town. Those opposed, he said, were concerned about the effects of reliving a traumatic night.

Watertown district councilor Angeline Kounelis, who represents the neighborhood, wrote in an e-mail to location managers that was forwarded to the Globe that the "subject matter may still be of a sensitive nature for the folks who lived through the experience." She requested that more residents be asked for their opinions.

Some Laurel Street residents voiced one concern that echoed those of their Franklin Street peers: that a movie could bring a new wave of sightseers.


For David Henneberry, that was a major part of his decision to reject the filmmaker's request. He never wanted to be thrust into the spotlight in the first place, he said, and he wished it would shine elsewhere.

Still, while he longs to have his anonymity back, he and his wife had not considered moving, despite the lingering interest in Tsarnaev's capture.

"He ain't gonna make me move," he said, arms crossed over his chest as he leaned back against his porch railing. "The guy who was hiding in my boat, that started all this."

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.