WATERTOWN (CBS) – It remains one of the most inspiring scenes from a terrible week. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was in custody following a long standoff and the people of Watertown, free to walk their streets, ran outside to scream their thanks to an exhausted police force.
“After it was like a party! We were all outside, the flag in our hand,” Watertown resident Hayas Nazaryan recalled.
“That’s my most vivid memory, my favorite memory,” Chief Ed Deveau said.
For Watertown’s chief of police 12 months hasn’t diluted a thing.
“It was just an incredible feeling to see the support that we got,” Chief Deveau said. “And I still get choked up about it to think that people lined the streets from Watertown Square to Kenmore Square thanking law enforcement for all we did that day.”
For hours, the city was on lockdown as teams went door to door looking for the younger Tsarnaev.
Lenny Fernandes lives a few houses down from where he was eventually caught. A year later, and his memory’s still fresh. “Then three a.m., SWAT knocking at my door, dude was about like seven feet tall, I think it was the boots, I don’t know. He comes in with an M-4 and he’s like ‘can I check your house for a criminal?’ And I think, sure, search my house, take my cat, I’m OK!”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports
He can make light of it now, but hours before that encounter, he heard a gunfight from his bedroom as the bombing suspects battled with police. Sergeant John MacLellen was one of the first officers on scene. “It still doesn’t seem like it could be possible that it’s been a year since that happened,” MacLellan said.
The Tsarnaev brothers, cornered on Laurel Street, allegedly did all they could to kill MacLellan and the other police, lobbing pressure cooker bombs, shooting wildly, driving right at them. Images, sounds, emotions, he’s thought about every single day since. “It’s hard to comprehend that something like that happened to us and we all survived,” MacLellan said.
Porcini’s restaurant keeps a framed photo of SWAT teams assembling in front of their building last April. A year later it’s still tough to process.
“I just remember the craziness of it all and how scared everybody was, but then how everybody rallied around together,” Porcini’s manager Bridget Moloney said.
“These things you never want to happen. When they do, you just want to see if everybody comes together. Just look at the police department and what they did, what they achieved.”
So much time has passed, but still, no one is sure what mix of luck and skill kept everyone in Watertown safe.
“There’s still difficult days when you think about everything that happened,” Chief Deveau said. “I’ve been on the job for 30 years, I’ve been a police chief for 12. I’ve seen a lot, but I’ll never forget anything that happened that week. It’ll be etched in my memory. It’s my proudest day in law enforcement.”
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