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Days After Gunfire - a Moment of Silence in Watertown

Posted by Tom Coakley  April 22, 2013 03:47 PM

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The sounds of rumbling traffic and a whistling wind filled the parking lot of the Watertown Police Department as officers and other department employees filed out of the police building on Main Street at 2:45 p.m., quietly chatting among themselves about the day's work.

Police Chief Ed Deveau joined officers in uniform, women in pantsuits and heels, and some men dressed in khakis and collared shirts. The small crowd of about 20 effortlessly arranged themselves in a rigid line in front of two flagpoles - one flying America's flag, the other, a Watertown Police Department flag. Both were lowered to half mast.

Over an officer's radio, a female voice rang out: "We are now observing a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon victims. The time is now 14:50 hours."

And exactly a week to the minute after the first of two terrorist bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street, Watertown police - who themselves experienced terror in their own community Thursday and Friday - fell silent in an observance to honor those killed and injured in the Marathon attack.

Joining in the nationwide tribute, some officers saluted the flag with a hand to their forehead; others placed their hands firmly over their hearts as they gazed up at American flag.

Afterwards, Deveau stepped aside as his employees quietly shuffled back into work.

"We're tired, but I think it's good to be among everybody," he said of the moment of silence. "It's just been so crazy here in Watertown for the past 72 hours. I think it's right to take a moment to reflect on all we lost on Monday."

Deveau and his officers have a right to be exhausted: as the bombing suspects' pictures were distributed Thursday and other events unfolded in Cambridge and Watertown, the police department here had its fair share of involvement.

Of the 65-person Watertown police department, 10 officers were involved in a shoot out near the center of town last week involving up to 300 shots fired, with multiple explosions and grenades aimed directly at law enforcement, officials said.

Bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the firefight early Friday and his brother Dzhokhar, the second suspect, was wounded in the gun battle and captured by police in Watertown Friday night.

"Those 10 officers are relieved of duty for now to spend time with family and recover," Deveau said today. "But there's still a lot of work to do for the rest of us."

And even though Watertown sees its fair share of criminal activity during a normal week, Deveau said the events of last week were unprecedented in town.

"Absolutely nothing like this has happened here, or in our country for that matter, ever before," Deveau said.

He said a spike in police presence in Watertown will likely stay for the next day or two as officials continue their investigation.

"We'll see how it goes," Deveau said.

Watertown resident Brian Currier, 33, said he was driving his daughter Sadie, 9, to drop off a thank you letter for the department when he saw the moment of silence being honored.

"It was very poignant," he said outside the Watertown Police station. "I thought it was a special way to honor the people who were killed."

His daughter Sadie, 9, said she wanted to show her gratitude to the officers.

"I was really scared and worried about my family," she said. "My grandma was right where it happened. I wanted to thank them for keeping everyone safe.

"They (the officers) were really happy to see my letter. They kept saying thank you."

Her father smiled. "To bring her down here was important," he said.

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