79° Good Afternoon
79° Good Afternoon

Watertown neighbors recall Boston Marathon bombing suspect's capture

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured hiding in a boat

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured hiding in a boat in the backyard of 76 Franklin Street in Watertown, Mass., according to officials. Credit: Bing

A man who grew up on Long Island had a front-row view of the climactic standoff in Massachusetts, as armed police and tactical units swarmed his street to capture the Boston Marathon bombing suspect in a boat 30 feet from his backyard.

Guillermo Madrigal, 29, a 2001 graduate of Huntington High School, said he was preparing to go out after the regionwide order to stay indoors was lifted on Friday evening, when hell broke loose again on Franklin Street in their Watertown neighborhood.

He and his girlfriend, Rebecca Heavey, 29, saw a Massachusetts State Police motorcycle parked at the end of the street and authorities rushing in their direction, guns drawn.

Madrigal and Heavey heard gunshots, and got on the floor of their house on adjacent Birch Road, diagonal to where the boat was parked.

"The only thing going through my mind was, 'Get my girlfriend, let's get the dog and let's all stay together and stay in one place . . . So whatever happens we're together,' " said Madrigal, who lived in Huntington Station from age 7 to 23. He graduated from LIU Post in 2007, moved to the Boston area five years ago and has lived in Watertown for a year.

Friday, his house was one of the few close places to which the suspect could have escaped, Madrigal said.

As a second lockdown ensued, Madrigal and Heavey hunkered down inside. Police used Heavey's car and their house for cover and shouted for the suspect to surrender.

Finally, police motioned to Madrigal and Heavey through the window and told them to evacuate. They sprinted with their dog, Mack, northeast to the top of a nearby hill.

"They told us to run as fast as possible," Madrigal said. "The police said, 'Go faster, go faster, get out of here.' It seemed like we were right there, in the action."

At the hilltop, they heard more gunshots. "It was just surreal," Madrigal said. "Everyone knows these two [suspects] had experience with explosions . . . If something would've exploded off that boat, it would have seriously impacted our house."

Madrigal and Heavey were among many who breathed easier Saturday, as their neighborhood rebounded from its moment in the global spotlight.

One suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was shot dead in a gunfight with authorities early Friday. That night, the second suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was found hiding on Franklin Street.

One resident of the street, Leah Flynn, 36, works at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and said she knew the college's police officer who the bombing suspects allegedly killed before they were cornered. She said she would see Sean Collier when she went to meetings at the student activities office, where she works. "I am sick about that," she said of his death.

Flynn said she awoke early Saturday and thought, "Did this really happen?"

Stephen Depamphilis, 53, who lives about a quarter mile from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's hiding spot, said he could hear officers on megaphones calling for the 19-year-old to come out Friday night. "The next thing we knew, we heard cheering," he said. "We feel great. We are just happy we are all safe."

Last evening, hundreds gathered at Liberty Park to support the town. Rob Conti, a former Watertown resident, helped organize the vigil. He said a friend posted on Facebook that it would be nice if people in Watertown united. "I ran with it. I was born and raised here. This is my blood."

News Photos and Videos