Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau said the roughly $250,000 cost racked up by the department for its post Marathon bombing activities on April 19 will plummet after the town's insurance agreed to reimburse officials for three totaled police cruisers.
The insurance reimbursements equal about $105,000, Deveau said today, and will cover two Ford Taurus sedan cruisers and one Ford Expedition sport utility vehicle cruiser that were ruined in the Watertown gunfight between police and bombing suspects.
Deveau previously told the Globe that he hopes the federal and state emergency management agencies would reimburse the whole $250,000 amount so no cost would burden the town. Now, he said that amount has dropped down to about $145,000 due to the insurance reimbursements.
"It definitely puts a big dent in the amount we’re seeking from MEMA and FEMA," Deveau said.
The three police cars were damaged beyond repair after the two bombing suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, engaged police in a shootout on Laurel Street.
"The cars looked like how you would imagine: There were bullets in and through the vehicles, and at least one had its windows blown out from the explosions," Deveau said. "They were unrepairable."
One of the sedans, which was brand new and had only 1,000 miles on it,was driven that night by Watertown Sgt. John MacLellan, one of the first officers on the scene of the gunfight.
At a recent community forum, MacLellan and Deveau recalled the strategy that annihilated the cruiser, but saved MacLellan's life.
MacLellan said in a interview after the forum that during the gunfight, he reached for his patrol rifle but couldn't manage to use it -- "Your dexterity is shot because of adrenaline," he said.
As the Tsarnaev brothers kept shooting at the front of his car, MacLellan had to think quick. So he put his foot on the brake, threw the cruiser into "drive," and let it ride forward as he used the cover of nighttime darkness to jump out and escape the gunfire.
"I sent it towards them, and they just kept wasting ammo on it," he said. "Then, they had a bomb, and as it got closer they threw it at the car, blowing out the windows on the passenger's side."
However, MacLellan said he was nervous to tell the chief what happened -- "Under normal circumstances, I could be fired for that," he said.
But during the forum, Deveau laughed as he recalled when MacLellan confronted the chief about what happened, fearing disciplinary action for abandoning and ruining the car.
"I said, 'John... that was brilliant,'" Deveau told the crowd. "He said, 'You're not mad at me?' and I said 'No, I want to hug you!' They don’t teach that at the academy, but they will now."
And even though the cost of the events left the department with a mortgage-sized debt, both Deveau and MacLellan agreed that it was worth it.
"It could have gone so much worse," MacLellan said.
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org