A Terrible Wake-Up Call

No matter how old you are, you know if your mother calls before 6 a.m. it’s not good.

It wasn’t good on Friday, April 19, 2013.

My mother called at 5:45 a.m. to tell me not to go outside and lock all the doors. A madman was on the loose… in our neighborhood. Our street is the town line between Belmont and Watertown.

I woke my husband immediately, telling him to call his mother and tell her we are ok. And then I checked the locks. Everything was secure.

We had turned on the news and started getting caught up on what happened overnight. And then this happened.

Having worked in news for as long as I did, I have seen these guys before. But never from this vantage point. I had always been the one standing at the end of the road craning my neck wondering what the people inside those homes were doing.

On Friday, April 19, 2013, I knew exactly what the people in those homes were doing, because I was suddenly one of them.

Our twins had yet to wake, and I promised myself that we would make this day as normal for them as possible. But how do you do that when you don’t want them going to the door, playing in the park, or even looking out the windows?

tactical FBI team members

Looking out our front door. The house across the street is in Watertown, we are in Belmont.

Once they woke we hunkered down in the kitchen and the living rooms, eating away from the giant bay windows in our dining room, and playing below the windows in the living room.

All morning we were fielding calls, texts, Facebook messages, tweets, and emails from friends and family hoping we were safe. We reassured them we were, although the anxiety levels were exceptionally high.

And then they started – the requests from media outlets to do interviews. Although my husband was the one to capture the team sweeping our garage, he was declining interviews, instead handing them off to me. I knew what these producers, reporters, talk show hosts wanted – they wanted an inside look at life in a lockdown.

So I agreed.

I went on to do interviews with a radio talk show in Akron, Ohio; the CBS affiliate in Bangor, Maine; KCTV in Kansas City, MO; France 24; the BBC; ABC; the NBC station in Portland, Maine (my former station); HuffPost Live (go to 35:00); WPIX in New York City; and WROC in Rochester, NY.

I told them it was difficult to maintain normalcy for our twin toddlers. I told them it was unnerving. I told them you never expect something like this to happen in your literal backyard. But here we were.

Door-to-door knocks

1 p.m. Friday, April 19, 2013

Doing these interviews was my defense mechanism. I knew if I kept talking about what I was seeing I could be a reporter rather than someone who was living this. I could describe the vehicles, the military-style outfits, the guns drawn and ready to shoot, the sirens, the otherwise quiet neighborhood. And I could do all of this as a reporter, not as someone living it.

In between these interviews I read books to my babies, I helped my husband prepare meals, I did laundry, and I tried not to get upset.

We ran out of milk, we were running out of bread, we were down to our last pieces of fruit, and still there was no end in sight. Instead, the lockdown was lifted and we were allowed to go outside again. My husband and I decided we were staying inside. It was nearly to the twins’ bedtime, and everything that had happened this day was too close. We were still scared.

We put the babies to bed, telling them we love them dearly and we will do everything in our power to keep them safe, and we returned to the television. During the day we snuck glances of the television while the babies were sleeping, or in the other room.

Now we were able to sit down together and watch. Within minutes, things changed. We were hearing reports that the second suspect was found in a boat a mile from our home. (The firefight the night before was less than a mile from our home.) We were riveted. Was this it? Was this the end? Is he alive?

There’s no sense in rehashing how it ended – they got him. He was alive and being taken to the hospital. People were in the streets again rejoicing. They were in front of the diner we walk to. The reporters were live from our Target where we buy milk and diapers. The hospital we were told this man was going to was down our street. And suddenly, almost as quickly as it started, this part was over. Our neighborhood was ours once again.

There is still a lot to be done in this case, but I said something over and over on Friday and I’m glad it came true. “I don’t want anyone else to get hurt. There have already been enough people hurt. I hope this ends without anyone else getting hurt.”

And it did.


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