Boston area residents awoke to a city virtually paralyzed after a night of mayhem that left at least two dead and police searching house to house for a suspect believed to be responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings.
As dawn broke over the city, police had already ordered a shutdown of all public transit in the region while officers armed with assault rifles conducted a search in Watertown, 10 miles west of downtown Boston, looking for Dzhokar Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old foreign national who had escaped during a confrontation with police.
Governor Deval Patrick ordered businesses closed in Watertown, Newton, Waltham, Belmont, Cambridge and Boston, while area schools from Harvard University to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston College canceled classes. Companies that have told employees to stay home include Merck & Co. and Pfizer Inc.
“There is a massive manhunt underway,” Patrick said at a televised news conference.
In an earlier statement, Patrick’s office urged people not go to transit stations. “Residents should not answer the door unless it is a police officer, and are advised to stay away from windows.”
Tsarnaev ran over the other suspect, his older brother Tamerlan, during the shoot-out in Watertown, according to a federal law enforcement official.
The two men are believed to have robbed a convenience store Thursday night before car-jacking a Mercedes SUV and leading police on a high-speed chase through the city’s normally tranquil suburbs. The brothers are believed to have shot and killed a campus policeman at MIT in Cambridge. At least one other officer, from the Transit Police, was wounded in a shootout with the suspects, according to Massachusetts State Police.
Police urged residents to stay inside in a message on Twitter.
“Get in your house, get in your house,” police told Watertown residents in the night.
Amtrak halted service between Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. Logan International Airport remains open and operating under “heightened security,” according to Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for Massport, the airport operator. Boston police said via Twitter that taxi service has been suspended.
Three of Boston’s major network affiliates sent out live updates from Watertown through the night, providing reports on police movements and interviews with officers and residents.
Area schools that cancelled classes for the day included Harvard, MIT, Tufts University, Emerson College, Simmons College, Suffolk University, Boston University, and Boston College, with some advising students to remain in their dormitories.
Companies that have told employees to stay home include Merck and Pfizer, which have research facilities in the area, according to people who answered the phone there. Partners HealthCare, which operates Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, suspended shuttle service during the manhunt. Brigham & Women’s told employees to use discretion regarding travel for work.
Most main tourist sites in Boston are closed or are opening late, including the Museum of Science, Boston Children’s Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts. All branches of the Boston Public Library will have a delayed opening. State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein said via Twitter that the state “House of Representatives is CLOSED TODAY!!! Everyone stay in & stay safe.”
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