Residents of Boston and its nearby suburbs woke to find themselves in a virtual lockdown Friday as mass transit came to a halt, college campuses were closed and officials urged people to shutter their businesses and stay inside.
“It is important that people remain indoors and not open the door,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said at a news conference in Watertown. The suburb was the scene of a violent police confrontation Friday morning that left one of the suspected marathon bombers, 26-year-old Tarmerlan Tsarnaev, dead. During the shootout the second suspect escaped -- Tsarnaev’s 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev -- leading to a massive manhunt.
With the younger man considered extremely dangerous, Patrick told residents to lock their doors. “Do not open unless there is a uniformed law enforcement officer on the other side requesting to come inside,” he said.
The chaos and carnage left large parts of Boston resembling a ghost town. Regional commuter trains and the city’s rail lines and buses stopped running.
Amtrak discontinued service between New York and Boston; Greyhound stopped its long-haul bus service. Passengers could get refunds or rebook for later travel. Logan International Airport remained open and taxis continued to ferry customers there, where airlines waived fees for travelers changing their intineraries.
The suspension of transit service left people stranded at subway stops and rail stations across Eastern Massachusetts. Highways were open, but jammed with commuters.
Meanwhile, most of the region’s universities -- including Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern and Suffolk -- announced that they would be closed. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in southeastern Massachusetts, where the fugitive studied, was also closed down.
Julia Cavanaugh, who lives in Watertown with her husband and two daughters, didn’t need to hear Patrick’s pronouncement to know this would be a harrowing Friday. She woke at about 3 a.m. to the sound of police cars and helicopters and to the sight of flashing lights.
“I was definitely afraid,” she said. “It was especially freaky because it was so dark outside.”
She turned on the television and started seeing familiar places on the news: her children's former daycare center, local restaurants, a building two blocks away.
A few hours later, Cavanaugh watched through the window as a black armored truck methodically moved slowly up her street. Then officers dressed in fatigues and carrying machine guns came to her door and searched outside her house.
Since then, there have been several police officers standing outside the houses on her street. Her fear has subsided because of the law enforcement presence, but Cavanaugh said she wished the officers would catch the other suspect and the lockdown would end.
“We feel like we are in a movie,” she said. “We are not allowed to leave.”
One resident who ventured from her home -- at least initially -- was Maura Kilpatrick, a baker and co-owner of Sofra, a popular cafe located a few blocks from where Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout. Figuring the manhunt would end sometime in the morning and the cafe would open, Kilpatrick headed in to work about 4 a.m., but was stopped by police who searched her car at a roadblock.
She kept on, making it to the cafe and, along with four employees who’d also ventured to work, began making croissants. But by early afternoon, becoming increasingly fearful because the search of the neighborhood was still going on, Kilpatrick and the others went home.
“I was scared, everybody was scared,” she said, speaking by cellphone from her car while she drove back home in a nearby suburb. Kilpatrick said her normal route had been closed and that uniformed officers were everywhere. Asked to describe what she was seeing as she drove, she said: "There are almost no people out -- I’ve seen maybe three -- not many cars, the business are closed down.”
Kilpatrick stopped at a red light. “I just glanced over at the person in the car next to me,” she said. “They were looking at me, checking me out. Everyone is on the lookout, worried. I had to smile, show them I am not scary. It was like: Seriously, me? I’m not scary. … This all feels so surreal.”
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