At 2 a.m. on April 19, Colin Landry woke to the sound of a ringing phone. The caller I.D. beamed, “9-1-1.” When he answered, the voice on the other end warned him Monday’s Boston Marathon bomber was headed for Watertown. “Stay inside,” it urged. “Lock your doors.”
A few hours later, his wife woke, and together they explained to their five children what was happening. “You know the bombers we talked about?” they said. “Well, one was killed, the other one … he’s somewhere in Watertown.”
The Landrys brought the family television up from the basement, set it on a few chairs, and turned on the news, watching hundreds of policemen descend on their small town hunting for the now-imprisoned Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
While the Boston Marathon bombings are raising questions about national security, the 4.2 square-mile city of Watertown is still figuring out what it means to go back to normal. Landry, who pastors Evangelical Baptist Church on Chapel Street, talked to WORLD about the day of the manhunt and how it has affected his small town.
During the next 14 hours, Landry and his wife hardly moved from their couch, an experience he described as “unreal.” They were riveted by the sight of familiar local landmarks broadcast on national television. “The parking lot to the Target we go to was full of policemen,” Landry recalled. “There were helicopters and SWAT cars out. Of course, our boys thought it was cool.”
When the lockdown ended at 6 p.m., they slid a pizza into the oven and Landry left the house to buy soda. He walked empty, quiet streets: “It was like a ghost town.” Sirens pierced those quiet streets on his walk back as police cars streaked past him, lights flaring.
Back at the house, Landry and his wife watched on TV as policemen surrounded a house with a white boat in its driveway, about a mile away from their home. By 8:46 p.m., the police had captured Tsarnaev alive. Neighbors cheered from a safe distance as an ambulance whisked him from the scene.
Since then, Tsarnaev has been transferred to a federal medical detention center 40 miles outside Boston. The U.S. Department of Justice has charged him with one count of using and conspiring to kill with a weapon of mass destruction, and one count of malicious destruction of property with intent to kill. Federal investigators are busy trying to piece together the Tsarnaev brothers’ lives and connection to radical Islam.
Landry is relieved. Watertown has closure now, he said. He joked that the manhunt gave the small city its day of fame. Since then, locals beam with civic pride, some even sport “Watertown Stands As One” T-shirts.
But, he said, the city also feels some racial tension, given its large Middle Eastern community. In Watertown, it isn’t strange to see women walking around in full-coverage garb, with only their eyes visible. “Boston has always prided itself on diversity,” he explained. “There will be pressure to go back to that.”
But going back won’t be easy. From the street, Landry has seen people yelling and cursing at passersby who appear to be Muslims. He admitted feeling worried himself. “It's hard not to be nervous,” he said. “I don't approve of those [nervous] thoughts. But it's hard when this hits so close to home.”
Ultimately, he hopes the recent events make his town more open to think about eternal matters. “Only one person thanked God,” he said, referring to the speeches following Tsarnaev’s capture. “There was no sense of gratitude. I understand that Boston has overcome, but if the … reaction is arrogance, it makes me nervous.”