WATERTOWN, Mass. — The sound of gunfire has been reported in Watertown, where authorities spent Friday searching for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. The shots came shortly after state officials lifted their order for people to stay indoors.
Television footage showed police and emergency vehicles responding to a building on Franklin Street on Friday evening.
Julia Cavanaugh, who lives in Watertown, went outside with her daughters after the lockdown was lifted. Then shots rang out.
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"We were outside and heard them and grabbed the kids and ran inside," she said.
Officials ordered people in the area to again stay indoors.
Less than an hour earlier, the lockdown of the Boston area was lifted after hours of door-to-door searches by authorities seeking one marathon bombing suspect.
Gov. Deval Patrick announced that officials were canceling their request that almost 1 million people in the Boston area stay off of the streets and locked in their homes.
“In light of the status of the investigation, the stay-indoors request is lifted and the T [the mass transit system] is open, effective immediately,” Patrick said. “We are asking the public to remain vigilant and alert.”
Patrick did not give details why the request had been lifted but defended imposing it after a shootout with police in the early hours of Friday led to the death of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, Dzhokhar’s brother. More than 200 rounds were fired in the shootout in Watertown, along with the use of explosives, the governor said.
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State Police Col. Timothy Alben said officials did not know where Dzhokhar was hiding. But the suspect’s ties are in the Boston area and police don’t think he would get much farther.
"This is a complicated investigation, our presence was about the safety of the people. Unfortunately we do not have a positive result to this point," Alben told reporters at a news conference before the reports of shots being fired in Watertown. "We are committed to seeing a conclusion to this case."
Throughout the day, the greater Boston area took on a ghost-town quality. Residents huddled at home, with televisions and radios turned to round-the-clock coverage of the manhunt. At the Friday evening rush hour, normally clogged freeways were nearly empty and signs blinked a "shelter-in-place" warning.
In two centers of the investigation, Cambridge and Watertown, business windows were dark and parking lots empty, save the occasional police cruiser or SWAT vehicle. The law enforcement presence was particularly strong in Watertown, where police manned a string of checkpoints in wind and rain. Hockey and baseball teams canceled their games.
Earlier in the day, Tsarnaev’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, pleaded on television: “Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness.”
The brothers were the only suspects identified by authorities in Monday’s bombing near the finish line of the marathon. The twin explosions killed three and left more than 170 wounded.
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Hours after officials released the images Thursday, reports came in that the pair were involved in the robbery of a convenience. Officials on Friday backed away from those reports, saying they no longer believed the pair was involved.
However, police continue to believe the pair was involved in the shooting death of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer on Thursday night. Sean Collier, 26, died at Mt. Auburn hospital, a hospital spokesman said.
After the MIT shooting, the pair hijacked a Mercedes. They released the driver after holding him for about 30 minutes and fled in the stolen car. Police followed.
The chase ended in Watertown, where officials said the pair threw explosive devices from the car. Gunshots were exchanged. A transit police officer, 33-year-old Richard Donohue, was shot and critically wounded, authorities said.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died at a Boston hospital after suffering what doctors said were multiple gunshot wounds.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev fled and in the process apparently ran over his brother. He has been the target of the intense manhunt since the shootout around 1 a.m. Friday.