Patch Associate Regional Ad Director Al Wilson was detained by police while returning to his home in Watertown, Mass. on Thursday night. Here, he explains what happened:
Q: What were you doing on Thursday night when this all happened?
A: I had driven back from a business trip for Patch from Southern New Jersey, returning to Watertown at 9 p.m. I went into my house and had done some work on my computer before going back outside to fetch a suitcase from my car. Two loud explosions suddenly sounded somewhere behind my house. In between explosions was a series of gunshots. There was then perhaps a 10 second gap before 30 to 40 shots were fired in quick succession. Then all was quiet.
Q: What did you do next?
A: I climbed into the car and instead of going back to the house (toward where the explosion and gunfire seemed to be coming from), I drove the opposite direction in my rental car, turned left on Mt. Auburn from Bailey and away from the scene. I had made it perhaps 200 yards or less on Mt. Auburn when 40 or so state and local police cars came up Mt. Auburn. I slowed and pulled to the right shoulder of the road. All of the police took a right onto a side street in front of my car with lights flashing but no sirens. So many pulled onto the side street that they were lined up as far as you could see. The whole side street was blocked (from top to bottom). In quick succession, all cars shut their lights off. I believe police stayed in these vehicles.
Q: You must have been terrified. What did you do next?
A: I then pulled away and continued another 100 yards before several more groups of police raced up the road. I estimate they were doing 100 mph-plus and in close proximity to each other. Several police pulled across Mt. Auburn and raced from their vehicles, leaving cars in the road. I pulled over onto a side street to my left (off Mt. Auburn) and parked the car. I sat in car for some time, hearing sirens and straining engines from cars under hard acceleration.
Q: At this point did things start to calm down a bit?
A: At some point I thought things had been quiet for some time, and I decided to quickly walk the 300 yards or so back to my house. I left the vehicle on the side street and ran along far right side of Mt. Auburn toward my house. I had made it approximately 100 yards or so when a SWAT SUV came up Mt. Auburn (from Cambridge) and pulled onto a side street on my left. That side street has a school with an open field and as I was running up street, I could clearly see the three officers jump out of the vehicle and rush to put on vests and protective gear.
Q: What were the officers doing?
A: They were armed with AR-15s and ran into the backyard of the homes to the right of their vehicle. I continued running up far right side of Mt. Auburn and was nearing my street (80 yards away) when a silver Dodge pickup raced up the street, turned sideways and a state trooper exited, pulled his weapon and ordered me to back up to the far sidewalk and onto the ground. He had me take to my knees. A second unmarked cruiser pulled up and two troopers quickly exited and drew their guns. the first officer ordered me to turn and lay flat on my stomach with hands on back of my head. He then frisked me and emptied my pockets while other troopers held their guns on me.
Q: Were you taken into custody at this point?
A: At some point the troopers had me roll over and sit up while keeping my hands above my head. I did so, and one of the second pair of arriving trooper shined a flashlight on my face. He asked what I had done to my nose, and as I had broken my nose several weeks earlier, I told him it was broken. They then had me sit on the curb for approximately 30 minutes while other cruisers and SWAT pulled up to look at me.
Q: Did you get the sense that they thought you were one of the suspects?
A: They commented they thought I was "too tall" and the first trooper who had originally ordered me onto the ground asked if I could see my house. I told him I could see my street and the next door neighbor's. He told me it was very dangerous and that many cops were looking to "shoot someone." I told him about my car down the street and he said to forget it.
Q: Did they let you go at this point?
A: The trooper told me to run to my house. I ran across the street in front of an ambulance, racing up Mt. Auburn towards Cambridge. A helicopter flew over my head as I ran. I turned up Bailey Road and entered my house through the back door. The helicopter hovered over my house and the two blocks surrounding my house for much of the night between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Later, I glanced in the mirror and saw my nose was bleeding from a scratch. This must have been what police were interested in."
Q: Did you notice any other activity throughout the night?
A: K-9 units and SWAT searched the backyard and surrounding neighbors' yards several times overnight. Currently, the helicopter is flying overhead. I have had the door locked and bolted since I got home.
Q: What's the environment like in your neighborhood now?
A: Police activity continues and obviously no cars other than police can be heard. Troopers returned to the yard approximately an hour ago (9:30 a.m.). They seemed to concentrate the search along the fence line in my backyard. I am on the top floor of a two-family on Bailey Road. Through the skylights in the roof, I can see a helicopter occasionally hovering above my house. State police, SWAT and what I believe is Homeland Security have been in my backyard several times last night and this morning. A fire truck just raced down Mt. Auburn. That is a new occurrence. Until now, only police vehicles have been racing by.