A tense, eerie but expectant calm settled over this vibrant city and its many surrounding communities Friday as the police manhunt for the surviving suspect in Monday’s bombing brought life to a near standstill.
Streets normally clogged with pedestrians and Boston’s legendary traffic stretched empty in all directions in response to the request by Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick to “shelter in place.”
Patrick repeated that plea at a news briefing in the early afternoon.
Law-enforcement authorities simultaneously poured thousands of officers onto the streets with activity centered in Watertown, a community located a few miles from the place of Monday’s bombings.
“We are progressing through this neighborhood, going door to door and street to street,” said Col. Timothy Alben, the commander of the state police, at a briefing shortly after noon.
“We’re well over 70 percent of what we want to cover up there. We do not have any developments to tell you in terms of that search up there. There has been no apprehension at this point.”
The lockdown turned Cambridge, where the two bombing suspects lived, into a ghost town. Traffic was virtually non-existent on Main Street and Broadway, which converge at the community’s hub near the Charles River.
Alben warned Cambridge residents of plans for a controlled explosion at the house where the two brothers lived.
“It’s done out of an abundance of caution,” he said. “It’s done for the safety of the law-enforcement officials that are over there before they proceed with the search of that premises.”
Armed police and military police in full riot gear patrolled the near-vacant streets. They stopped the few pedestrians who ventured out and offered strong suggestions to return to their residences or hotel.
The Boston Cambridge Marriott hotel posted guards at its entrances. Only those showing room keys were permitted to enter the lobby, which was sparsely populated.
Authorities instituted the lockdown throughout much of the Boston metropolitan area in response to an overnight car chase and shootout with two suspects in those bombings.
The shootout followed a robbery and a carjacking that left one suspect dead but another still on the loose.
“We believe these are the same individuals that were responsible for the bombing Monday at the Marathon,” Alben confirmed. “We believe there are responsible for the death (late Thursday) of an MIT police officer and the shooting an an MBTA officer.
“This is a very serious situation we are dealing with.”
The result was a surreal and perhaps unprecedented portrait of a major American city under siege that unfolded in real time on television and throughout the social media.
Most businesses remained shuttered into the afternoon hours. Nearly all service halted on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which operates the buses and light-rail service throughout the metropolitan area.
Taxi companies also suspended service throughout the morning before resuming on a limited basis. Amtrak chose not to operate north of Providence, R.I., although Logan Airport continued to operate.
The Royals found themselves in the middle of everything from their hotel, the Westin Copley Place in Boston, which is located about two blocks from where Monday’s bombings occurred. The Royals learned Friday afternoon that their 6:10 p.m. game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park had been postponed.
Those bombings killed three people and injured more than 180.
Authorities identified the suspects as two brothers: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26. Authorities still have not offered any reason for the bombings and warned against speculation linking the attack to terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda.
Reports from various news outlets say the two brothers have lived in the United States for about a decade after emigrating from the Russian region of Chechnya.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the overnight gun battle, but Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escaped. Police blanketed the area with swat teams and an army of officers in pursuit while the city remained virtually paralyzed.
“We believe this man to be a terrorist,” Boston police commissioner Ed Davis said in a morning news briefing. “We believe this to be a man who’s come here to kill people.”