Gov: Boston Lockdown Was ‘Tough Call’

  • FILE - In this April 19, 2013 file photo, the streets and sidewalks around Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston are almost deserted at dinnertime as a call for "shelter-in-place" for Boston and some area communities remains in force. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick says the decision to lock down much of greater Boston during the search for the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was a “tough call” but one he’s glad that was made. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

    FILE - In this April 19, 2013 file photo, the streets and sidewalks around Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston are almost deserted at dinnertime as a call for "shelter-in-place" for Boston and some area communities remains in force. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick says the decision to lock down much of greater Boston during the search for the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was a “tough call” but one he’s glad that was made. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

  • FILE - In this April 19, 2013 file photo, the streets and sidewalks around Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston are almost deserted at dinnertime as a call for "shelter-in-place" for Boston and some area communities remains in force. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick says the decision to lock down much of greater Boston during the search for the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was a “tough call” but one he’s glad that was made. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

    FILE - In this April 19, 2013 file photo, the streets and sidewalks around Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston are almost deserted at dinnertime as a call for "shelter-in-place" for Boston and some area communities remains in force. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick says the decision to lock down much of greater Boston during the search for the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was a “tough call” but one he’s glad that was made. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

  • FILE - In this Friday, April 19, 2013 file photo, a pigeon flies along deserted State Street with the Custom House hotel in the background in downtown Boston. Mass transit was suspended while a suspect was hunted following bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes, File)

    FILE - In this Friday, April 19, 2013 file photo, a pigeon flies along deserted State Street with the Custom House hotel in the background in downtown Boston. Mass transit was suspended while a suspect was hunted following bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes, File)

  • FILE - In this Friday, April 19, 2013 file photo, a pigeon flies along deserted State Street with the Custom House hotel in the background in downtown Boston. Mass transit was suspended while a suspect was hunted following bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes, File)

    FILE - In this Friday, April 19, 2013 file photo, a pigeon flies along deserted State Street with the Custom House hotel in the background in downtown Boston. Mass transit was suspended while a suspect was hunted following bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes, File)

  • FILE - In this April 19, 2013 file photo, the streets and sidewalks around Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston are almost deserted at dinnertime as a call for "shelter-in-place" for Boston and some area communities remains in force. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick says the decision to lock down much of greater Boston during the search for the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was a “tough call” but one he’s glad that was made. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
  • FILE - In this April 19, 2013 file photo, the streets and sidewalks around Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston are almost deserted at dinnertime as a call for "shelter-in-place" for Boston and some area communities remains in force. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick says the decision to lock down much of greater Boston during the search for the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was a “tough call” but one he’s glad that was made. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
  • FILE - In this Friday, April 19, 2013 file photo, a pigeon flies along deserted State Street with the Custom House hotel in the background in downtown Boston. Mass transit was suspended while a suspect was hunted following bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes, File)
  • FILE - In this Friday, April 19, 2013 file photo, a pigeon flies along deserted State Street with the Custom House hotel in the background in downtown Boston. Mass transit was suspended while a suspect was hunted following bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes, File)

Boston — Several days after the Boston Marathon bombing, Gov. Deval Patrick received a call in the pre-dawn hours from a top aide telling him that police officers outside the city had just engaged in a ferocious gun battle with the two men suspected of setting the bombs and that one was dead and the other had fled.

Within hours, Patrick shut down the region’s public transportation system and made an extraordinary request of more than 1 million greater Boston residents: Shelter in place.

And for the better part of April 19, 2013, nearly everyone did.

On what otherwise would be a normal weekday, people stayed home. Stores in Boston were shuttered, streets deserted and an eerie silence prevailed while authorities searched for the suspect and attempted to cut off escape routes.

“It was a big decision. I’m glad we made it,” Patrick reflected during a recent interview about the anniversary of the bombing.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, it turned out, would not be captured until shortly after the shelter-in-place request was lifted some 12 hours later. He was found in a boat, behind a home in Watertown, a Boston suburb, blocks from where his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had died after the earlier shootout. The homeowner had ventured outside to check on his boat and, upon noticing the cover amiss, peered in and saw the bloodied teenager.

That the population of greater Boston overwhelmingly agreed to shelter in place — it was not mandatory — and that there was little second-guessing despite the inconvenience and disruption of commerce it caused, was viewed as a reflection of the anxiety gripping the region. It was also a sign of how strongly the city rallied around itself and its leaders after the bombing.

Initially, Patrick said, police intended only to seal off parts of Watertown and a small portion of Boston and suspend public buses to those areas. But that would change as more details emerged in the chaotic overnight hours.

He learned that the earlier shooting of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier and a carjacking in Cambridge were believed to be linked to the bombing suspects as well. And other information, alarming though later unsubstantiated, kept pouring in: One report of a taxi going from Watertown to Boston’s South Station just before the first scheduled train of the day to New York City; another that federal agents had chased a person matching the suspect’s description in South Boston.

Patrick concluded that the suspect could have already moved far from Watertown, necessitating a broader lockdown. At mid-afternoon, Patrick took a call from President Obama, who offered encouragement but also a reminder that the lockdown could not last indefinitely.

“We lifted it before we found the surviving suspect because we got to a point where we didn’t think we could sustain it anymore,” Patrick said. A house-to-house search in Watertown had also been completed.

Exhausted, Patrick headed home, first stopping to pick up Thai food for his wife and daughter who, like so many others, had spent a long day at home. It was then he learned of the capture and returned to Watertown.

“It’s a tough, tough call,” said Patrick.

Marc Fucarile, who lost his right leg in the bombing, said he strongly supported the shelter-in-place request, noting how dangerous the suspects were and dismissing the notion it was inconvenient.

“You know what was an inconvenience? Two bombs on Boylston Street was an inconvenience,” Fucarile said.