Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau testified before before the House Committee on Homeland Security Wednesday, giving his account of what happened April 19, 2013, as his officers fought the suspected Boston marathon bombers.
Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese was also a witness before the committee. Joining Deveau and Pugliese were other members of the Watertown police force. Sergeant John MacLellan and officers Joseph Reynolds, Miguel Colon and Michael Comick were the first four police officers from the department at the scene the night of the firefight in Watertown.
Deveau spoke with Boston.com before he delivered his congressional testimony.
Deveau said he was on a JetBlue flight on the way back from Florida when the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon finish line. After the bombing, Watertown sent officers to help Boston police in the aftermath of the explosions.
“We sent 10 to 12 officers to Boston to help them in the days up to the manhunt,’’ Deveau said.
Three days later, the case came to Watertown in a big way. Alleged bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were engaged in a firefight with police officers from Watertown, MBTA transit police and other departments.
Deveau recalled getting a phone call to alert him to the developing situation.
“I was home and the officer in charge called me. ‘Chief, they are shooting at us and throwing bombs,’’’ Deveau recalls.
Deveau said he was initially “numb’’ when he spoke to the officer in charge. Then it was a “mad scramble to get dressed’’ and get to the scene, near the intersection of Laurel Street and Dexter Avenue in Watertown.
According to Deveau, the events of April 19, 2013 changed both the Watertown Police Department and the community.
“It is a new normal for all of us,’’ he said. “[The] community supported us when we needed them the most.’’
Almost a year later, Deveau is part of a 12-person team of Watertown Police Department personnel running the marathon. This will be Deveau’s fourth time running Boston.
Finding the time to get into race shape was difficult for the full-time officers, according to Deveau.
“Tough on our schedules. Tough winter as well,’’ he said.
Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and Harvard professor Herman Leonard also testified Wednesday.