Police In Quiet Boston Suburb Chase Bombing Suspects

Steve Inskeep talks to Mark Sideris, president of the Watertown town council, about events that unfolded overnight.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And let's go next to Watertown, Massachusetts, where we have reached the council president of the Watertown town council, Mark Sideris. Mr. Sideris, welcome to the program.

COUNCILMAN MARK SIDERIS: Good morning. Thank you for having me.

INSKEEP: What has the night been like in Watertown?

SIDERIS: It's been chaotic, from what I can understand. And it's a very dangerous situation. The town is actually pretty much shut down. The police chief has asked no business to open and no traffic to come through Watertown at the moment.

INSKEEP: Now, we heard, this must have been a very surreal thing for you to hear, police in a nationally televised, nationally broadcast briefing earlier this morning, mentioning specific streets in your suburb, Dexter, Laurel, School Streets, areas that were the center of some of the action overnight. What kind of a community is this?

SIDERIS: Watertown is a very dense community, full of two and three family homes very close to each other. So we're talking about areas that you just mentioned that are very heavily populated.

INSKEEP: Very heavily populated and people have been urged to stay in their homes. I mean, what are you hearing from residents as you go through this night?

SIDERIS: The people that have called me have been scared. The town, they used a reverse 911 system to ask everybody to stay in their homes and they're basically in lockdown at this point.

INSKEEP: You're saying reverse 911, meaning that I guess automated phone calls were going out, actually.

SIDERIS: Automated phone calls.

INSKEEP: Waking up people in the middle of the night and saying if you're not aware of what's going on, you need to be aware of what's going on.

SIDERIS: Basically, the phone call said there's a situation happening in Watertown. Please remain in your home. People were being woken up at two and three and 4 o'clock this morning.

Now, of course, you have official responsibilities. Have you been out on the streets at all? Have you seen anything?

I have not been out on the streets because I am heeding the police chief's warning to stay at home.

INSKEEP: You're heeding the police chief's warning to stay at home. So what happens next, as far as you can understand?

SIDERIS: I guess they're waiting for daylight to do some more thorough searching. My understanding is they're going to be going knocking on doors, door to door, and continuing search for the suspect that's still on the loose.

INSKEEP: Well, that's an interesting point because authorities have said to residents, don't open the door for anyone who knocks, except a police officer, so residents of Watertown might well expect, particularly on those streets we named, might well expect a police officer to come to the door at some point.

SIDERIS: Correct.

INSKEEP: Has there been anything like this in the history of your Boston suburb, anything that you could possibly compare this to?

SIDERIS: There's nothing that I can compare this to. We had an incident a few years back, on another one of our side streets where a terror suspect was taken from a home.

INSKEEP: That was a few years back, but nothing like this kind of shootout that you've had.

SIDERIS: No. No, nothing that I can remember and I've been in town for a number of years.

INSKEEP: And, of course, we're gathering eyewitness recollections here. Some of those eyewitness accounts will prove to be true, some of them will prove to be inaccurate or exaggerated. But we did hear one eyewitness account of someone who felt that they heard perhaps 50 shots, a large number of shots in any event, and we do have police saying that a number of explosive devices seemed to have been thrown during this shootout.

This is not a small event.

SIDERIS: It's not a small event at all.

INSKEEP: And it must have been heard...

SIDERIS: Very dangerous situation.

INSKEEP: And it must have been heard by people all across Watertown.

SIDERIS: You could pretty much - it's a four square mile town and I'm sure the shots and the bomb that was exploded, or hand grenade, I don't know exactly what it was, could be heard throughout the community.

INSKEEP: Did you hear anything?

SIDERIS: I did.

INSKEEP: What did you hear?

SIDERIS: I live on one of the perimeters, closer towards Newton.

INSKEEP: I'm sorry, so you did hear it. Describe in a few seconds what you heard.

SIDERIS: Well, it sounded like little, you know, popping type shots. I would call it a gunshot.

INSKEEP: Multiple shots?

SIDERIS: Yes.

INSKEEP: Any idea how many?

SIDERIS: I couldn't - I was half asleep when I started hearing them.

INSKEEP: Understand. What a way to wake up. Well, Mr. Sideris, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

SIDERIS: Thank you for having me.

INSKEEP: Mark Sideris is the president of the town council in Watertown where police shot it out with Boston Marathon bombing suspects overnight. One suspect is dead, another still at large. We'll bring you more as we learn it on MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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