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Local News

November 13, 2013

'The fight of their lives'

Watertown chief describes police shootout with Tsarnaev brothers

AMESBURY — Civic and business leaders last night listened with rapt attention as Watertown police Chief Edward P. Deveau described how John, Jeff and Joe, three of his officers, exchanged gunfire, ducked pipe bombs and eventually killed one of the two men who allegedly detonated bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon last April, killing three and wounding hundreds.

Filling in for retired Boston police Commissioner Ed Davis at the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner, this year inside Amesbury Chevrolet, Deveau received a standing ovation both before and after his roughly 20-minute keynote speech.

In great detail, Deveau painted a picture of what it was like for the first three law enforcement officers, Sgt. John MacLellan, Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese and officer Joe Reynolds, when they confronted Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzohkar, four days after they allegedly detonated the two homemade pressure cooker bombs and then tried to flee from the region.

Reynolds was the first to spot the two brothers, hours after they were publicly identified as those responsible for the bombings. At 12:40 a.m., minutes after a black Mercedes SUV was reported carjacked in Cambridge, Reynolds spotted a vehicle matching that description and called the station. Neither Reynolds nor the dispatcher who relayed the information knew the SUV had been stolen minutes after Tamerlan Tsarnaev allegedly executed MIT police officer Sean Collier.

When the SUV pulled over, Tamerlan Tsarnaev got out of the car and began shooting at Reynolds.

“He was going to execute Joe Reynolds like he executed Sean Collier,” Deveau said.

Reynolds had the presence of mind to put his car in reverse and create some distance between himself and the shooter, Deveau said. Moments later, MacLellan arrived at the scene in his SUV and immediately felt a bullet scream by his ear after shattering his windshield. Stinging in pain from the near miss, MacLellan leaped out of his vehicle and let it roll down toward Tamerlan Tsarnaev. As it rolled closer, the brothers began lobbing pipe bombs at the vehicle. Four were tossed at the vehicle, the first blowing out the car’s windows. The second and third were duds, but the fourth one detonated, causing damage to nearby cars and vehicles.

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