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Gunfire in Watertown: An eyewitness account

April 20, 2013|By Sam Farmer

While millions of people watched on TV the eventual capture of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Friday, Bob Glatz saw the events unfold in person, shooting more than two hours of video from his front window.

Glatz, 46, who lives in a third-floor Watertown condominium on Franklin Street, five houses away from where the younger Tsarnaev was apprehended, described to The Los Angeles Times how the day unfolded. A former Harvard running back who now works at the school, Glatz shares the condo with his nephew, Nick Gianetti.

Although there was a heavy police presence in the neighborhood throughout the day, the most intense action began around 6:30 p.m EDT.

In Glatz’s words:

All of a sudden we hear the chirping of a siren. We look outside the window and eight or so police cars with lights on but no sirens go flying past our house.

Each of these houses are close to the road, with long driveways that go along the side of the house and parking in back. So this boat was parked down at the end of the driveway. I don’t know the people, but I’ve seen the boat back there. I never gave it any thought.

Cars are driving down the street, cops are sprinting down the street, and they’ve all got their guns drawn. There’s FBI, there’s ATF, National Guard, Watertown police, they’ve all got their different vests and jackets on. They’re fanning out into the neighborhood. Some are running into my yard, my neighbor’s yard. Some are running down the street.

My nephew and I started shooting video at this point. So I go out onto the deck to get a better view. It’s a good-sized deck, 50 feet by 20 feet, and I can see the whole neighborhood from that third-floor vantage. I run over to the side where the police are going, and they’re moving quickly. They’re jumping over fences and positioning themselves.

As I’m out there with my iPad, trying to videotape -- probably not the smartest thing -- I hear a quick whistle. I look to my left and three cops point at me and direct me right back into the house. Without saying a word, their message was clear. I went right back into the house, locked the door, pulled the shades down, and went back to the bay windows at the front of the house.

At one point there’s this burst of gunfire. We can’t really tell what they’re shooting at, and we can’t see the boat. We have a general idea which house it is, but it’s not completely clear. You hear them barking instructions: “Boston police back up! FBI move in!” At one point everybody moved back, and they’re hiding behind cars, trees and houses. There were not a lot of words spoken. Every once in a while they’d say, “Weapons out! Take cover!” In unison, everyone was blending into the scenery. Then they’d say, “Approach!” and you’d see 40 or 50 people move in. It was crazy stuff.

Half the time, especially when there was gunfire, I was ducking down and holding the iPad up to the window. It was surreal, like being in the middle of a movie. Over the next couple of hours, it went from daylight to darkness.

There were two separate bursts of gunfire and several small explosions over the course of two hours.

At some point, an ambulance pulled up parked directly in front of my house. We had to continuously charge the phone and iPad because we’d been shooting video and taking calls for a couple hours. Things were happening quickly, and we couldn’t get a shot of them bringing him up the street on a stretcher. I just caught the end of it as they were loading him into the ambulance.

I’m looking at my kitchen right now, and my nephew and I drank a few beers after this was over. Because people know we live on Franklin Street, my texts, emails and Facebook are just going crazy with all of this. I got 100 texts in 15 minutes.

It seems to me the decisions of the authorities were phenomenal. Locking down Boston and Watertown, setting up a wide perimeter, going door to door – they went in a majority of the houses in Watertown – looking in every backyard, every vehicle. Their planning and execution was phenomenal. I think they planned it perfectly.


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