SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

April 23, 2013

Inside the SWAT team search of Watertown

(Continued)

Members of NEMLEC’s rapid response team, another specially trained unit, helped secure the borders of the search area and take on other key roles. There were more than a dozen RRT members at the scene. Ipswich officers were part of a Cape Ann Regional Response Team that helped in the search.

It was sometime after midnight when the NEMLEC SWAT team started going house to house. They knocked on doors, entered buildings, searched backyards, opened sheds, tipped over barrels, hopped fences and never stopped looking.

“It was always (at least) two people (together at one time) ... one searching, one covering,” Saia said.

Did they fear that a heavily armed bombing suspect was behind the next fence, around the next corner? Although events had transpired rapidly, the officers knew that one officer had been killed, another severely wounded, one suspect was “down” and the other on the run.

“Your adrenaline is going ... (but) you stick to your tactics,” the 12-year veteran said. “We’re very well-trained and -equipped and -led. You worry about that stuff later.”

At some point in the morning, they reconvened at a staging area and were deployed to a new search zone. In all, Saia guesses they went through 100 houses, many of them two-family homes. Over and over, they knocked on doors and asked to search inside.

“Most of the time ... it was, ‘Yeah, please come in, please check it out.’ People were extremely helpful. They really wanted that extra sense of security that nobody was in their house.” Along the way, he said they met a lot of “very scared people.”

When a homeowner said there was no need to search, they looked hard at the individual and situation to make sure the person wasn’t acting under duress, that the suspect wasn’t inside.

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