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BC hockey coach Jerry York, a Watertown resident, recalls a jarring night

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff  April 22, 2013 06:17 PM

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Jerry York is well-known as a creature of habit. A lifelong resident of Watertown, the 67-year-old Boston College hockey coach, five weeks removed from undergoing a second surgery to repair a detached retina in his right eye, often begins his day with a stop at the Dunkin' Donuts in Watertown Square.

But York's routine, as well as those of his fellow Watertown residents, was shattered in the wee hours last Friday when a wave of violence erupted on the streets, as police engaged two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings in a gunfight that left one dead and the other at-large.

York was rousted from his slumber at 2 a.m. by a reverse 911 wakeup call from Watertown Police, warning people to remain indoors while authorities searched for the second suspect.

"They called every single resident and told us there was police activity and to stay in the house until further notice,'' York said.

Tim Clark, of BC's sports information staff, texted the coach, warning him, "Don't go for Dunkin' Donuts in the morning!''

Said York, "I don't turn the TV on. I get up in the morning and I'll be in my car and I'll go down to Dunkin' Donuts. But the whole day we were 'shelter in place.' I had never heard of that word, but all of a sudden we were inside and I've got no gun or anything and what are you going to do if the guy walks in? They said don't answer the door.''

While it gave him some comfort to be neighbors with a Watertown Police officer, Ed Kasabian, York remained in confinement until authorities apprehended 19-year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev, who was hiding beneath the tarp of a boat behind a Franklin Street home, which, York said, was about a quarter of a mile from his house.

"We stayed up all night and watched the TV the whole day -- it was riveting,'' York said. "My brother, Bill, lives about four houses away from where the boat was.''

York did not join the revelers who descended upon Franklin Street to salute the law enforcement officials. "No," said the coach, "but I went out on my back porch and gave out a 'hallelujah!'

"We were really proud of 'em. We talk all about giving more respect to the firemen and we get mad at the police because they give us tickets. But when you need them, they're there. And they risked their lives, too.

"It was so hard for all of us, because you're mad at the terrorists and you want to get them and stuff. But it was a celebration when we finally got them both''

York said his thoughts were with those who lost their lives and were maimed in the explosions, including a pair of 2005 BC graduates. "We sent them out a videostream, wishing them the best of luck,'' York said.

York celebrated in the only way he knew how: by making a delayed coffee run Friday evening to Dunkin' Donuts.

"Oh, no question,'' he said. "Went out for iced coffee that night."

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