Dan MacDonald, who lives on Bigelow Avenue and Mount Auburn Street, near Watertown Square, said he was watching TV and talking with his girlfriend when they began hearing sirens—just a few at first, then more—“maybe five or seven, racing at this point.” Then in the distance they heard gunshots, about 15, he said, within 10 seconds.
“I kind of ran downstairs and came outside,” he said. “They were coming from the Arsenal Street area up Bigelow Avenue. There were about 10 cop cars, they took a left on Mount Auburn Street heading toward Galen Street.”
The bedlam in Watertown was preceded by a spasm of violence in Kendall Sqaure, in Cambridge.
An MIT officer, who has not been identified, was shot multiple times at 10:48 p.m. Main and Vassar streets, near Building 32, better known as the renowned the Stata Center. No one else was hurt, and no arrests had been made by early Friday.
That shooting sparked a massive manhunt, which fanned out from Kendall Square over an area that had endured a tragic and tumultuous week, in the aftermath of the fatal explosions at the marathon.
Police officers and canine units swept the campus, and a big swath of Vassar Street was blocked.
The university issued an alert to students and faculty to remain inside, which was later lifted.
An eerie quiet descended on the campus as teams of police officers combed the campus block by block. SWAT teams were present.
Police checked bushes and alleys and yanked on doors.
The grievously wounded officer was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. At the hospital, family members of the officer shot and killed declined to comment or give the officer’s name. About a dozen gathered outside the hospital’s emergency room, hugging and consoling one another through the night.
Siddhartha Varshney was walking home from dinner with two friends when they were stopped at the police cordon.
“Initially, we thought they had caught the suspect in the bombing,” the 28-year-old said. But they then learned it was a shooting involving an MIT officer.
“Well, I — honestly — I mean, I can’t think what I make of it. The situation is a little tense,” he said. “And I hope that whoever he is gets caught.”
Few seemed to be out on the campus at the time of the shooting. One professor, standing feet from the police tape, said he came out of his office when he heard a commotion of sirens and saw police lights.
Early Friday, MIT issued a statement about the death of the officer. “MIT is heartbroken by the news that an MIT Police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty on Thursday night on campus. Our thoughts are now with the family.”