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Counterterrorism drill held at Fenway Park

An officer guided volunteers across the street as Boston police and the Department of Homeland Security took part in a counterterrorism exercise at Fenway Park on Sunday. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Dozens of Boston police officers engaged Sunday in a mock counterterrorism exercise in Fenway Park that included sounds of gunshots and explosions, fallen bodies, and bloody faces.

In a jarringly realistic-looking sequence of events, people acting as bystanders on Yawkey Way fell to the ground as multiple rounds of gunshots rang out around 9 a.m. Several armed police officers ran through the area yelling commands, such as “Get down!” and “Stay where you are!”

The simulation happened to occur only hours after a shooter killed 50 people and injured 53 in an Orlando nightclub. Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans said the Orlando shooting was a testament to why simulations such as the one in Fenway Park — an area congested with bars and restaurants — are imperative for the city of Boston.


“Over the last two to three years, the Boston Police Department has had over 200 different trainings on active shooters,” Evans said during a press conference. “We saw what happened in Paris and what continues to happen around the country . . . and that’s what all of this training is all about.”

The exercise — which included dogs, metal detection, and drones — was held by the Boston police in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security and several other agencies. Evans said the focus of the simulation was to test what does and does not work in the instance of an active shooter, suicide bomber, or a threatening drone.

Joseph Moniz, 49, a visitor from Vancouver, spent the morning walking around Fenway when he suddenly heard the sounds of gunshots.

He wasn’t too surprised, though, as he is in the military and frequently experiences similar simulations.

“The way you act is the way you practice,” he said. “With all the stuff going on in America and with the bombs during the Marathon, this needs to happen.”


Sarah Blair, 23, was among the hundreds of people who volunteered to act as bystanders. Blair said she used this as an opportunity to practice how she would act if she ever finds herself in the throws of a bombing or active shooter.

Blair said before each simulation she would plan what to do: Stay calm and run.

But then, Blair said, each time the explosions and gunfire went off, all of her planning would go out the window.

“No one ever knows what they are going to do in that situation,” she said. “I predicted that I would be a hider, but I ended up being a runner. We hid during one of them on purpose because we wanted to see what it would be like, and we found that it was a lot more terrifying to just crouch in a kitchen and wait.”

For 25-year-old Mariah Swiech Henderson of Roslindale, participating in the simulation was a way for her to reconcile what had happened during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

Henderson, an emergency medical technician, was not at the bombings but has a number of close friends and colleagues who were.

“I’m still struggling with some post-traumatic stress from the Marathon,” she said. “I have kind of avoided talking about the Marathon, thinking about the bombings, and thinking about terrorism. So I thought it would be a good way to confront it and see how it would have happened, and how things will go.”


Henderson said she was still getting her bag checked by security when the first mock explosion went off. She immediately fell to the ground and hid under the security table. The second time, she ran.

As realistic as it seemed, she said, such a situation just cannot be fully simulated.

Evan Allen of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Trisha Thadani can be reached at trisha.thadani@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @TrishaThadani.