In the early morning hours of April 19, 2013, a firefight took place in Watertown between law enforcement and alleged Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Andrew Kitzenberg witnessed the events of that night from his apartment on Laurel Street. Kitzenberg wrote about his memories of that night for Boston.com.
Evening, April 18, 2013
It was a regular Thursday night. I had attended a networking event at Nix’s Mate on Broad St. in downtown Boston. I came back home to my apartment on Laurel Street in Watertown and saddled up on my couch, turned on a hockey game and flipped open my laptop to catch up on work like I often do.
Not long after settling in on the couch, I heard the disturbing news that someone at MIT had been shot. Living just 5 miles from the school and given all the chaos throughout that week, it was worrisome to say the least.
Earlier that evening, televisions had been broadcasting what seemed to be the only news story happening in the country – the Boston Marathon bombings. Photos of the suspects had been released. The suspects were on the loose and we were being told to consider them “armed and extremely dangerous.’’
But when I first heard about the MIT shooting, I didn’t even consider it could be related to what had happened earlier that week, so I went about my work that evening.
Early morning, April 19, 2013
The hockey game had just ended. It was a little before 1 a.m. I was finishing up my work when all of sudden, I heard a few very loud “pops’’ coming from outside. Laurel Street is a quiet side street with lots of families in the neighborhood, so to hear much of anything was unusual. Occasionally, on summer evenings, you could hear the sounds of kids playing with fireworks. But what I heard in the early morning hours of April 19 did not sound like fireworks.
I quickly got up from the couch and dashed over to my second floor window. I looked out and saw what I knew was the exchange of gunfire. I also saw a police SUV rolling up the sidewalk and into our driveway. My heart start pumping and I yelled to my roommates, “There’s a shooting on the street!’’
Within seconds, my other three roommates were awake and taking shelter in their bedrooms. I ran up the stairs to my bedroom on the third floor where I could still see out onto the street. I jumped flat on my stomach so I was just under the windowsill but could still pop my head and hands up to take pictures.
I initially took video of the shooting that was taking place not more than 40 feet directly in front of my window. The darkness made taking video difficult, so I switched to taking photos and was able to capture clearer images.
Then, an explosive went off outside and prompted more yelling within the house, everyone urging everyone else to take cover.
Shortly thereafter, a second bomb went off.
It was at that moment that I was able to quickly connect the dots. I remember having a very strong feeling that the people on the street were the suspects I had seen on TV earlier that evening.
From a crouching position in the corner of my room and between two windows, I had a vantage point that allowed me to see what was playing out on the streets below. Police officers were positioned and shooting.
I continued to take pictures.
I looked out the front window and down the street and saw a silver metal object on the ground that was accompanied by sparks. I immediately jumped flat to the ground and covered my head. Within a few seconds, a thunderous explosion went off, shaking my entire bedroom. My housemates yelled to each other.
I looked up and out the window and saw a smoke cloud from the explosion rise over 50 feet above the street.
I then noticed one of the shooters running toward the police and firing at them.
Then, the black police SUV made a sudden turn in the street and quickly accelerated toward the police. As soon as the SUV started down the street, there was constant and rapid gunfire.
I remember thinking to myself in that moment that what I was witnessing was almost unbelievable, like something out of a “Diehard’’ movie. As quickly as that thought came and went, the SUV was out of sight and the police began chase.
The events I just described – the most tense and shocking of my life – lasted about five minutes. It felt more like twenty.
The next 24 hours was a frenzy of calls from reporters and discussions with law enforcement, all while being evacuated from our house. But from the chaos came some good. The residents of Watertown came together that day, opening their doors and their hearts to their neighbors and the generosity displayed around Laurel St. was a testament to BostonStrong.
Kitzenberg moved out of his Laurel Street apartment in June 2013. He has spent the last 9 months living on a houseboat in Boston Harbor.
Follow him on Twitter @akitz