WATERTOWN, Mass. — The neighbors who live in the modest Victorian homes along the dogleg turn of Franklin Street don’t talk much about what happened here one year ago.
It brought them closer, and it comes up now and then, at a barbecue or a block party. Not the details, but unmistakable allusions: How good it feels to relax, how they have all really earned a drink.
But Franklin Street, a 20-minute drive from the finish line of the Boston Marathon, will forever be the place where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was cornered, where a city’s day of lockdown and week of terror came to their pyrotechnic end.
And so there are always reminders.
Jim Seida / NBC News
Watertown Mass. Residents Brendon and Lori Toye in the back yard with their 19-month-old son, Garvin, were new to the neighborhood when police swarmed their house in pursuit of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers, who was hiding in a boat on the other side of their fence, one year ago. After Tsarnaev’s capture, the Toye’s fence was littered with bullet holes and they weren’t allowed back into their home for two days due to the investigation. Monday, April 14, 2014, in Watertown, Mass. (Jim Seida / NBC News)
In the early days after it happened, you would spot a neighbor patching up a bullet hole on a window shutter. Today there are tourists, fewer now but still frequent, license plates from all over, slowing the car to gawk.
And a stray helicopter can still rattle Lori Toye, shaking her psyche the same way the choppers seemed to shake her whole house on the day when the police, and what seemed an entire convoy of armored cars, closed in on Tsarnaev.
She had lived in Watertown only six weeks.
“Life did go back to normal,” she said. “It was about two weeks just trying to comprehend the whole thing. Still, anytime there was helicopters — still, to this day, the helicopters — that feeling still comes back.”
She was speaking from the backyard of her home, 71 Franklin St., while her husband, Brendan, casually practiced his golf swing, and their son, Garvin, who turns two in July, tottered around wielding a driver.
Garvin was 9 months old on the day of the lockdown, April 19, the day after the overnight police firefight elsewhere in Watertown that left Tsarnaev’s younger brother, Tamerlan, dead.
Lori Toye said that she could hear the bullets fly. She couldn’t sleep that night, and spent the following day, like pretty much all of greater Boston, cooped up inside.
On the evening of April 19, Toye said, she spotted David Henneberry and his wife out for a cigarette next door. She remembers thinking: “Wow, they’re brave.” The lockdown was over, but not the terror. The surviving Tsarnaev brother was still out there.
Henneberry’s family said later that it was on that smoke break that he discovered something about his boat that did not look right. He spotted a strap that had been cut clean. He saw blood on the tarp.
Henneberry fetched a stepladder, had a look, saw a pool of blood and a figure hunched in the forward section of the boat. He went back inside his house and called the police.
Toye was washing dishes when all hell broke loose one house away.
“We just heard — it wasn’t even sirens at first. It was footsteps. Like pounding footsteps,” she said. “We just knew right away.”
She grabbed little Garvin, headed for a hallway that had no windows, and lay on top of him.
She knew that Tsarnaev was probably somewhere in Watertown, and he might be armed with who knows what. She did not yet know that Tsarnaev, gravely wounded, was in the boat right next door.
The police came in a hurry, Brendan Toye recalled, and they said: “I’m sure you’ve been watching the news. We think we’ve got him cornered in the boat next door. We’re going to need you to get out.”
An officer grabbed Garvin, who was wearing shorts, and ran with him up the street. He told Lori, “Grab a blanket.”
She grabbed what she could and chased after. Some of her neighbors were running, others cowering behind cars.
She and her husband were taken in by a woman they had never met who lives nearby. They watched Tsarnaev’s capture on television — the house next door beamed around the world. Officers fired a barrage of bullets at the boat.
One year after the marathon attack, some people on Franklin Street said they did not feel like talking to reporters.
On the day before the anniversary, Henneberry was out back tending to his new boat. The old one, ruined, was hauled off by the FBI. A crowd-sourced fundraising campaign helped raise $50,000 to buy him the new one.
Henneberry expressed deep gratitude in a letter to the fundraising site, Crowdtilt, but is tired of talking about it. He ordered an NBC News reporter and photographer off his property Monday, then disappered into the house.
“I’m done,” he said.
Jim Seida / NBC News
One of 21 bullet holes in the fence that seperates the Lori and Brendon Toye's home from the back yard where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers, was captured almost a year ago. The Toyes were new to the neighborhood when police swarmed their house in pursuit of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers, who was hiding in a boat on the other side of their fence, one year ago. After Tsarnaev’s capture, the Toye’s fence was littered with bullet holes and they weren’t allowed back into their home for two days due to the investigation. Monday, April 14, 2014, in Watertown, Mass. (Jim Seida / NBC News)
After Tsarnaev was captured, it was two days before the Toyes were allowed back into their home and a week before they were allowed in their yard, which was still considered a crime scene.
Today they point out the 21 bullet holes in the wooden fence that divides their property from Henneberry’s. And they point to where police bullets struck their shed out back. They are marked, like the shutter next door with the spot of patching paint, by little up-pointed burgundy arrows where the FBI recorded the shots.
Brendan Toye, who works in construction, plans to follow Tsarnaev’s trial in the fall, although for months he was rattled just to hear the name. Lori Toye recently read a book about the manhunt and felt a surge of anxiety when the story got to her neighborhood.
They are thankful that Garvin was only 9 months old when it happened. When he hears something fly overhead, he gets excited and points to the sky.
He will have little, if any, memory of the night last April. His parents will have plenty, but they said they have never considered moving.
“It made us realize what a great neighborhood we live in,” she said. “The one good thing that came of it was that we got to meet our neighbors.”
First published April 15 2014, 4:01 PM