Life in the largest crime scene in Boston history means residents return home for just minutes

James Brennan, an employee of Sugar Heaven, a candy store at 669 Boylston St., walked inside the largest crime scene in the history of Boston to help authorities in their search for the person who bombed the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday.

He walked back out the steel barriers, which have walled off the Copley Square neighborhood while police search for forensic evidence, at Newbury and Exeter streets at 2:30 p.m.

“I went in the store, gave them the video surveillance, we reviewed some of the footage,” he said. “We did have video surveillance of the actual moment when the blast went off. As far as any suspect, we didn’t see anything particularly revealing, he said.”

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For the first time since Monday’s explosions, residents of the Exeter Towers, located inside the perimeter, were allowed to go in their units and retrieve essentials.

Boston police closed the 15 block area to allow for a detailed search for the physical evidence that could lead to the person or persons responsible for Monday’s act of terrorism that killed three people and wounded more than 170.

This afternoon, police said they had completed their search on Belvidere and Dalton streets, and allowed the public access, opening the way for some people who were lining the streets after evacuating hotels to return to their rooms.

Also today, State Police reopened Exit 22 on the eastbound lanes of the Massachusetts Turnpike, but only for traffic heading to the Prudential Center. The ramp to Copley Square remains closed, State Police said.

At one point today, in what may signal more streets will soon be open, investigators wearing white booties over their shoes and white haz-mat suits stood shoulder-to-shoulder and walked down the sidewalk in the crime scene.

Emily Fayen, a representative of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay said that while the neighborhood is not part of any portion that has been or is still restricted, the daily routine for many residents has been altered by the numerous news trucks and live reporting set-ups on Commonwealth Avenue.

“Of course, that is a minor inconvenience compared to what the victims and their families have endured,” Fayen said.

Meanwhile, Boston police allowed the residents, one-by-one, into the nine-story red-brick complex at 28 Exeter St.

A photography student at the Museum of Fine Arts frantically grabbed clothes and photographs from her apartment, going several minutes over the five she was allotted.

“I have finals now and I’m a mess,” said the woman. “I’m the only one in my school, apparently, who has to deal with this, the school is OK, though, if I have to miss the finals, they’re OK with that.”

Minutes later, Beryl Oremland, a resident of the building for two years, grabbed dog food and a computer she needed for her job.

“Those were the two most important things, everything else we can buy,” she said, pulling her large rolling luggage with those two items inside.

She added: “It’s an inconvenience but we’re safe and that’s all that matters, we’re fine.”