Boston skaters, coaches recount harrowing day

Miner, Carriere, coaches Mitchell, Johansson give local perspective

Ross Miner was thoroughly impressed with the job the local law enforcement officials did.
Ross Miner was thoroughly impressed with the job the local law enforcement officials did. (Getty Images)


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By Sarah S. Brannen, special to
(04/19/2013) - Early Friday, the Boston Police department gave a "shelter in place" warning to residents of Boston, Cambridge, Watertown and surrounding communities in Massachusetts. They said people should stay indoors and only open the door to uniformed police officers. Most businesses in the area were closed, including the Skating Club of Boston.

The search for the suspects moved from Cambridge to Watertown. Ross Miner lives quite close by, and as talked to him, he said he was seeing police helicopters flying overhead.

"We got a reverse 911 call at about 2:30 or 3 a.m.," he said. "We got two calls in 10 minutes. They said, 'Stay inside, lock your windows, lock your doors.'"

Miner said the town was very quiet, with no cars on the streets.

"It wasn't even scary last night because it didn't even feel like it was happening," he said. "I still don't realize there's probably a guy holed up with explosives less than a mile from my house, and a thousand police officers. It just feels like a normal Sunday. All I hear are birds and helicopters."

Miner said he recognized the area the police are concentrating on from the TV reports. He had dinner at a nearby mall just Thursday night.

"This is all happening less than a mile away," he said. "If I walked through the golf course and five more blocks, I'm there."

Miner said that the mother of skaters Olivia and Hilary Gibbons, a surgical nurse at Tufts, lives very close to the building the police are focusing on.

"I talked to her, and she said could hear the gunfire," Miner said.

In Boston, coaches Mark Mitchell and Peter Johansson are obeying the "shelter in place" order and not going out.

"The rink is closed," Mitchell said by text. "Heard it on the news when I woke up. No people outside. Streets are empty. We are not going out. Everything is closed.

"It's so sad, all right here where we live and work. Can't believe this is happening. I'm so sad and upset."

The brother of coach Bobby Martin lives very close to the center of the police search. He said by text that they heard and saw the activity Thursday night, and that a SWAT team went in and evacuated them. They are staying with Martin now.

Stephen Carriere lives outside of the "shelter in place" area, but he was in Cambridge, driving in to the Skating Club of Boston shortly after 6 a.m. Friday morning.

"I was on the road about to teach, and I got a text from one of the women in the office, and then from the skater's mom, saying that we have to leave the rink, don't come in," he said.

Carriere, a Boston College student, then got texts from the campus police saying that the school had been locked down.

"I'm just home watching all this unfold," he said by phone Friday afternoon. "It's really weird. Especially Arsenal Street, where all the police are; Ross and I go to the Boston Sports Club there all the time."

UPDATE - Friday, 9 p.m.

Once the Boston bombing suspect was in custody, Miner reported on the day in Watertown. He had been up since 3 a.m., when the first reverse 911 call came to his house.

"The last two hours were pretty intense," he said. "We've been up in my parents' bedroom facing the direction where everything was happening. I was listening to the police scanner on my phone, and we could hear out the window."

Miner said he and his family could hear gunfire, and that when the police set off the "flashbangs" -- grenades that are meant to disorient with bright light and loud noise -- he could hear them from the window.

"It was exciting when they got him," Miner said. "This whole thing is unfathomable to me. I'm very happy they got him alive. It was a great end to a horrible situation."

Miner spoke of the Boston police, which he saw in action all day, with the greatest respect.

"We were so impressed with the response," he said. "We had a SWAT team by our house. It's very reassuring to see these people dressed in armor. They did a great job. The odds were in their favor, but a desperate person can do a lot of damage.

"And I was very impressed with Bostonians for actually listening for once and staying inside."