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In Watertown, hiding in the bathroom, hearing the gunshots

April 19, 2013|By Alana Semuels

WATERTOWN, Mass. -- An hour or two before, Deanna Finn hadn't anticipated she’d be ducking with her son in the bathroom of her Watertown home, listening to gunshots, her husband blocks away.

The travel ban that had marooned area residents in their homes had just been lifted when Sean Finn decided to go out for milk and cigarettes.

It had been a strange day, cooped up in their apartment at the corner of Franklin and Walnut streets in Watertown. Police had searched the yard earlier in the day, and friends’ houses had taken bullet holes in another part of Watertown.

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The house, a two-family residence with a white picket fence and American flag in the front yard, seemed safe, especially as police had been on the street all day.

Deanna Finn, 37, stayed at home with the couple's 8-year-old son, Sean Jr. She went out onto her back porch on Franklin Street to say hello to a neighbor, who was outside, when police yelled at her to get indoors. Seconds later, she heard gunshots a few houses away.

“It was pow pow pow pow pow, at least 15, 30 shots,” she said.

She grabbed her son’s hand and dragged him into the bathroom, where they lay on the floor, looking up at the ceiling. When a few other loud booms occurred, Deanna Finn threw her body on top of her son’s.

“I said, 'All right, buddy, we have to get down on the floor,' ” she said. “My motherly instincts just kicked in.”

To keep her son from hearing the shots, Finn flushed the toilet over and over. They pulled the shower curtain and kept their heads down.

“It felt like my entire life, I swear. I never had anything go so fast and so slow at the same time.”

It was terrifying because the news for the past few days had been so grim, and because her husband was gone: His car had broken down at the convenience store, and police wouldn’t allow him back into the neighborhood. The TVs had been showing helicopters over her house. Her best friend, a police detective, was out there somewhere, she knew.

When a friend called and told her to look at the TV, she peered out of the bathroom, leaving her son behind. Then she heard a noise on her porch. She peeked outside. Her neighbor, Olga Ciuc, and her husband, who live next door to the house with the boat where the suspect was thought to be hiding, were sitting quietly on the Finns' porch. They had been evacuated from their home, but hadn’t wanted to bother the Finn family. Deanna invited them in. All four sat nervously in the Finns' living room, flinching as booms and gunshots sounded.

“It was so tense in there,” Finn said.

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There they sat as SWAT teams moved outside and blue lights flashed outside the window. Then a friend texted that the suspect had been caught. Finn went outside to the police and asked, “Did we get him?”

His words, “Almost.”

A few minutes later, she said, “Are we happy, police?”

And he said, “Yeah.”

She was still shaking a little while later when, as she stood on the porch with her son — SWAT vans, SUVs and ambulances passing by — her husband finally returned home.

“I’ve been waiting for that for hours,” she said, sighing deeply.

alana.semuels@latimes.com

Twitter: @alanasemuels

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