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FBI raid puts quiet Watertown neighborhood under the spotlight

Posted by Brock Parker  May 13, 2010 12:56 PM

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Samantha Lacerra, 20, had slept over at a friend’s house Wednesday night and wasn’t aware of what was unfolding Thursday in front of the house where she grew up on Waverley Avenue until she began being bombarded by friends trying to contact her.

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“I got like 20 missed calls and text messages and they were like:‘Your mom is on the news and terrorists live across the street,’” she said.

By the time Lacerra returned home, the FBI had taped off the house across the street and news crews were huddled in her living room reviewing the video footage that her mother, Barbara Lacerra, had shot of the FBI raid at 39 Waverly Ave. before 7 a.m.

Barbara Lacerra said her husband had told her that the FBI had surrounded their neighbor's house, and they looked out the window to see agents with their guns pointed at the house. Authorities went into the home behind a shield, and Barbara Lacerra recorded the FBI placing a man from the home the back of a vehicle.

"It was really scary to see, especially near a middle school," she said.

Samantha Lacerra tried to remember who it was that lived across the street.

“I never see anyone come out of that house,” she said.

Neighbors from throughout the area walked to Waverly Avenue to watch the commotion, in what they described as an otherwise quiet street.

The house the FBI raided is across Summer Street from the Woodland Towers elderly housing building, and is less than a block from Watertown Middle School. Authorities had cordoned off the home with police tape, and FBI agents were still inside the home at noon while police directed traffic through the dozens of people and news crews around the two-story white home.

“The first thought is: ‘Is there any bombs in there? Is it going to blow up? Were they sure when they went in there,” said Janet McCullough, 65, who lives nearby on Fayette St. “I guess it can happen anywhere.”

McCullough said she has lived in the neighborhood her entire life and she said the raid shows that residents have to be aware of who lives around them.

“It’s frightening,” McCullough said. “You have to be vigilant. Hopefully from what they have out of here, they will be able to get more info and find out what is going on.”

Djano Kheremian, 39, who lives two blocks away on Alcott Street said he was driving by the Waverley Avenue home Thursday morning when he saw the FBI “everywhere” around the house.

“You never know if they are living in your own back yard,” Kheremian said.

David Ricci, 50, who lives in the neighborhood, said he was watching television Thursday and didn’t realize anything was going on until he began hearing a helicopter outside.

Ricci got on his scooter and traveled the short distance to Waverley Avenue where he saw FBI agents removing bags from 39 Waverly St.

"You never think something like this would happen so close to home," Ricci said.

Sisters Harriet and Betsy Xerikos, who have lived in the neighborhood for 10 years, said it is frightening to think that terrorists could live nearby.

“What am I supposed to think?” Harriet Xerikos said. “It’s crazy. Stuff doesn’t usually happen here, it’s a quiet town, it’s kind of scary, but at least they caught them. But we’ve lived in worse places.”

Neighbor Venus Meaghar said she thought terrorism could only happen in a big city like New York, and that nothing would happen in Boston.

“I feel so good here, I walk every day, I don’t worry about walking in the dark, the people in this neighborhood are so quiet, that’s why I like it,” Meaghar said. “It makes me nervous, now, because it could happen anywhere.”

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