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Gov. Patrick recounts closing down Boston after bombing

BOSTON--Several days after the Boston Marathon bombing, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick received a call in the pre-dawn hours from a top aide telling him that police officers outside the city had just engaged in a ferocious gun battle with the two men suspected of setting the bombs and that one was dead and the other had fled.

Within hours, Patrick shut down the region's public transportation system and made an extraordinary request of more than 1 million greater Boston residents:

Shelter in place.

And for the better part of April 19, 2013, nearly everyone did.

On what otherwise would be a normal weekday, people stayed home. Stores in Boston were shuttered, streets deserted and an eerie silence prevailed while authorities searched for the suspect and attempted to cut off escape routes.

β€œIt was a big decision. I'm glad we made it,” Patrick reflected during a recent interview about the anniversary of the bombing.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, it turned out, would not be captured until shortly after the shelter-in-place request was lifted some 12 hours later. He was found hiding in a boat, behind a home in Watertown, a Boston suburb, blocks from where his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had died after the earlier shootout. The homeowner had ventured outside to check on his boat and, upon noticing the cover amiss, peered in and saw the bloodied teenager.

That the population of greater Boston overwhelmingly agreed to shelter in place β€” it was not mandatory β€” and that there was little second-guessing despite the inconvenience and disruption of commerce it caused, was viewed as a reflection of the anxiety gripping the region. It was also a sign of how strongly the city rallied around itself and its leaders after the bombing.

Henry Willis, director of the homeland security and defense center at Rand Corp., said he was surprised there had not been

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Survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings, Erika Brannock, left, and Rebekah Gregory DiMartino, embrace in their wheelchairs as they head to the finish line of the Boston Marathon Tribute Run in Boston on Saturday, April 19.

(AP

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