Looking back, five years later

Watertown High School students, staff share personal stories of 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and Watertown shootout

The day after the Watertown shootout, Daniel England looks at where one of the bombs went off on Laurel Street.

Raider Times photo / Shawna England

The day after the Watertown shootout, Daniel England looks at where one of the bombs went off on Laurel Street.

As the 2018 Boston Marathon approaches, Watertown High School students and teachers recall their experiences surrounding the events of five years ago — the Boston Marathon bombing,  and the shootout and capture in Watertown.

Maureen Regan (English Language Arts coordinator)

  “I remember seeing the news on the day of the Marathon and I remember looking at the image and not paying attention to what the newscaster was saying and I just saw the explosion and I thought, ‘That’s really strange.’ Then the days following it was very surreal I remember them making a mistake and actually putting the image of someone who wasn’t the bomber in a New York newspaper and I thought, ‘That is very strange,’ as well there was a lot of speculation of who had done it and what had happen, and there was someone falsely identified as having done it. Then they showed the image of the two brothers finally they came up with white hat and black hat. And they isolated that these two individuals seemed to have been involved. 

  “It wasn’t until the Thursday night of that week several days after the bombing … I got up early and turned on the news and it was the shelter in place. That is when it became real and surreal at the same time.

  “I have a brother in law enforcement that contacted me that morning to let me know, ‘Don’t go to Watertown.’ That was just very strange.

  “And watching it on full the whole day — since I wasn’t in a town under lockdown — I got to go spend some time with family and friends.

  “I thought it was very interesting at one point, I think it was CNN commenting, one reporter said, “If we say anything it is speculation at best, and, right now, that’s not helping this investigation”.

Maura Maguire (Attendance office, Room 222)

  “I was cleaning my garage on the day of the bombing … My brother was running in the marathon.

  “Initially when you realized what actually happened, of course I was worried sick, but thankfully he was safe. My niece and my brother still continue to run the marathon and will be running on [April 16]. He has been running the marathon for 15 years now, his daughter this will be her second time they will be together.

  “[When the bomber was caught] that was sweet relief for me … I just feel horrible that there is so much evil that people would even consider doing something like that.

  “Martin [Richard, the 8-year-old victim of the bombs] was student of a friend of my who worked at the school. He was 8 years old. I mean, that is just devastating to me. I still think about it often. Martin, he went to the school in South Boston, and yeah it was just awful.”

Sara York (Evaluation team chair)

  “I was home and my husband was actually on SWAT and [during the Watertown firefight] he was gone all day from around probably 1 a.m. to midnight the next day and I saw him on the news that day, that’s how I knew where he was. He was actually right around the area where they found the suspect [hiding in the boat].

  “The day of the Boston Marathon bombing, I was actually out on a run when it happened and I came back and I saw all that. It was actually close to where my parents live. They were out on a walk, so they were fine.”

Niki Hamidi (WHS junior)

  “I was there at the marathon. I was really far away from the bombing when it happened. I left after it happened. I heard about it later on the news, and I just stayed at home.”

Deborah Johnson (Family Consumer Science teacher)

  Ms. Johnson was on the way to visit her father in hospital when the bombing happened. She heard about it in her dad’s hospital room, and she just assumed it was a gas leak. 

  Her dad called her and said he was going to be discharged, but the town was on lockdown Friday, so she couldn’t pick him up.

  “This is what you’d see in a war zone,” she said. “It’s like reliving 9/11 all over again.”

  She knew it was bad because she is ex-military, but she still didn’t want to believe bad things. She believed in the good of all people, so it was hard to believe that such horrifying events took place.

   Ms. Johnson graduated from high school with many of the officers.

   “I knew I was safe because I knew half of the cops,” she said.

   One day, she got e-mails from friends from all over the world, asking her if she was all right. She was confused for a moment until she saw the news about the Tsarnaev brothers — they were in Watertown.

   Shots echoed throughout the neighborhood the night before, and again, she assumed it was only tree branches breaking off. She always believed that people were good.

   The day one of the Tsarnaev brothers was found in the boat, she found a helicopter was hovering over her roof. She was quite surprised.

  The town lockdown was lifted sometime later, but she “still didn’t go out.” She remembers the oddity of finding newspapers at her door.

  “I still received newspapers, even though the town was on lockdown,” she chuckled.

  She expressed concern for the younger generations. She said 9/11 was the worst day of her life, and the Boston Bombing and the town lock down brought 9/11 to Watertown. It was traumatic for kids, and it was going to affect them.

Kate Myler (WHS junior)

  Kate Myler, who was then a sixth-grader at Watertown Middle School, said that she was out of town.

  “I was at my aunt’s house when the [marathon] bombing happened. I had gotten a text from a friend that said, ‘Are you Dead?’

  “I then asked my aunt and she told me that something was going on and that later that week she said that there was something wrong in Watertown and that I couldn’t go home. Later, after it was over, I learned what happened.”

Crystal Yapdoudjian (WHS sophomore)

  “I heard the blast at my house [during the Watertown shootout] and I was kind of scared, but I didn’t think anything happened.

  “I was happy when the guy was captured. Because I felt safe, I felt safer.”

Bill Aldridge (WHS parent)

  Watertown resident Bill Aldridge, who lives near Victory Field, recounted his experience the morning of the lockdown.

  “I woke up that morning and went downstairs for coffee, etc. I opened the deck slider because is was a warm day. Then I got a strange text from [my brother] Bucky asking if we were OK. Didn’t know what he meant. I turned on the TV and, of course, it was all there on TV.

  “So I went upstairs to tell Kathy and turned on the TV there. I think we must have watched for an hour or two. Then I went back downstairs and — realized the slider was wide open all morning. And this guy is lose in the neighborhood. So now what? Tiny chance he would have slipped into our house. But what if he did? And was he in the basement?

  “Either way, at that moment, I can’t do nothing. Kathy and kids are upstairs. Do I call the cops? No. Do I get us out of the house? Do I just go check the basement? And if he is there, I’ll be shot?

  “I was really scared for a few minutes. So I took a knife downstairs. No one there.”

David Danielian (WHS junior)  

  David Danielian, who was then a sixth-grader at Watertown Middle School, said that he was on vacation.

  “I was on vacation with my family in Florida when the bombing happened. My brother was on his phone and told me what happened and I didn’t believe him. He keep telling me that this had really happened and I finally believed him.”

–April 13, 2018–