At 12:42 a.m., Watertown’s dispatcher warned: “Okay, the vehicle is now in Watertown, units, in the area of 89 Dexter,” part of a slumbering neighborhood of tidy houses and duplexes whose residents proudly decorate their homes with flower boxes. A lot of Watertown was like that — a small town where many of the police officers never fired their guns outside of the practice range.
“I’m right behind that vehicle,” Reynolds replied.
The patrol supervisor, Sergeant John MacLellan, advised caution. “Don’t stop the car until I get there,’’ he told Reynolds, according to Watertown Police Captain Raymond Dupuis. “Wait for help to come.’’
But there was no time. The SUV took a sudden left turn from Dexter Avenue onto Laurel Street and came to an abrupt stop — right behind a second vehicle, the green Honda Civic that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had retrieved moments earlier. As Reynolds watched, one brother emerged from each car.
“The suspects get out and start shooting at Joe Reynolds,’’ said Dupuis.
The next four minutes may go down as the longest in Watertown history, as the two sides fired more than 250 bullets all told and the brothers hurled bombs, filling the night air with the stench of sulfur. When the smoke cleared, one bomber was dead, a police officer had been gravely wounded, houses were pockmarked with bullet holes and shrapnel, and an entire community was traumatized.
Officers who had been guarding the crime scene at MIT sped off to join the fight as soon as the Watertown dispatcher said, “Shots fired, all units respond.” Flashing blue and white lights of dozens of cruisers lit up the night as they converged on the bridges leading from Boston to Cambridge.
“There are [expletive] bombs, they’ve got [expletive] IEDs,” shouted one FBI agent as he ran through East Watertown toward the shoot-out. “Everyone get your [expletive] phones off. No phones. They’ve got IEDs,” referring to improvised explosive devices.
When the shooting started, Reynolds jammed his cruiser into reverse, trying to gain distance between him and his attackers. Moments later, help arrived as shift supervisor MacLellan rounded a corner in his black-and-white Ford Expedition and immediately had a bullet graze his front windshield.
The patrol supervisor jumped out of his car and took cover behind a tree at the corner of Dexter Avenue and Laurel Street. The Tsarnaevs, using the SUV now as a shield, continued to fire.
By now, Laurel Street slumbered no more, though at least one resident thought the growing commotion was caused by children playing with firecrackers.
“Get the hell out of here and go to your own neighborhood,” Peter Kehayias yelled out the window of his two-family house.
“Get inside and shut your window,” an officer commanded loudly.
Then the police officer screamed at the young men standing in the street, “Give up! There’s no way out! Give up!” as Kehayias and his wife, Loretta, watched.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, standing in front of the black Mercedes SUV parked in the middle of the street, brazenly taunted: “You want more? I give you more.”
The doors of the SUV were wide open as Dzhokhar reloaded the pistol and handed it to Tamerlan, Kehayias said. Dzhokhar then reached inside for a duffel bag.
Loretta Kehayias, a special education teacher in Cambridge, picked up the phone and called 911: “Do you people realize I believe there is a cop out here and there are two guys? . . . They’re shooting at him.”
The reply was instant: “Yes we know, lady.” Click.
MacLellan returned to the Expedition, put it in neutral, and exploited the gentle incline of the street to push the vehicle toward the brothers, strobe lights on frenetic flash. He wanted the gunmen to think he was still in the Expedition so if the siblings fired at it, he might see them and get a clear shot.
More help arrived. Officer Miguel Colon, who joined the force with Reynolds in 2006, came around a corner and drew instant fire, one round shattering the spotlight on his cruiser.
As the Expedition rolled past her house, Lizzy Floyd crouched with her husband beneath a bedroom window on the second floor of their home, witnessing the startling bursts of gunfire and something more alarming. Floyd felt the neighborhood shake as the young men threw what appeared to be pipe bombs.
“We have them pinned down and they’re throwing explosives at us,” an officer reported, according to recordings of the scanner traffic that night.
At one point, Dzhokhar allegedly pulled out another pressure cooker bomb — like the ones they allegedly set off at the Marathon — and hurled it toward the police. The explosion created an instant bright yellow flash that turned the midnight darkness to day and knocked a framed photograph of a New Hampshire harborside off Floyd’s shelf.Continued...