Play-By-Play: What Happened In Boston Last Night

A lot of my relatives and friends (not from Boston) reached out to me today, asking “What is going on over there?” Because the internet is so jumbled with crazy and conflicting information, I’m writing a play-by-play of last night (April 18th-April 19th) from my perspective. For some background, I am a Harvard student and that plays into how I got my information throughout the night.

MIT Shooting

Police searching the MIT shooting scene.

Police searching the MIT shooting scene.

It started when a MIT campus policeman was shot. Harvard students got an emergency text and e-mail at 11:35 PM that read: “At 10:48 PM today gunshots were reported at MIT. The area is cordoned off. Please stay clear of area until further notice.” Three minutes later, there was another text, this time from the Harvard University Police Department that read, “Shooting with injuries near MIT campus at 10:45. Suspects at large. Police searching area. No impact on Harvard. Stay out of area.”

At first, it just appeared to be a random (school) shooting. It didn’t seem related to the bombing. I heard sirens outside my window as police rushed to the area. While chatting with my boyfriend, I began feeling nervous about Harvard because if it were related to the bombers and they had been headed for MIT, it’s not a far stretch for them to head to Harvard after (considering we are only about 2 miles away from MIT).

At around midnight, I found out with great sadness that the MIT policeman passed away. If not for him, who knows what the suspects would have attempted at MIT or the rest of Boston…

Harvard Network and Police Scanner

There were various emails being sent over Harvard lists. One reported to stay away from Central square (close of MIT), where there had been an armed 7-Eleven robbery that might be related to the shooting. News sources have now confirmed that the suspects had, in fact, first robbed the 7-Eleven before heading to MIT. Another email reported that police were concerned that the shooter was on the red line (and possibly headed toward Harvard Square). This information was received by students listening to the police scanner because both the university and news sources were not reporting on everything that was happening (presumably because the university didn’t want students to panic and because news sources needed to get everything straight).

Then there were shots heard at 109 Garden Street, which is close to Harvard’s quad, near 12:40 AM. I could hear and see countless police cars zipping past my window, all headed in the direction of the quad. There were reports of more robberies along the river. My boyfriend guessed that this might be an elaborate robbery scheme, having the shooting distract police as others robbed stores. However, his guess quickly altered when we learned that the suspects had what seemed like hand-made grenade. Around this point, an MBTA police officer was shot. At 12:58 AM, I received a text from a friend reporting that the police scanner says there are two middle-Eastern armed men in a black SUV moving toward Harvard Square via Memorial Drive.  They are armed and have possible grenades. (Later we learned that they hijacked the SUV.)

Upon hearing about the grenades, I began thinking this was related to the Boston marathon bomb suspects. After all, yesterday afternoon the photos and footage of them were reported. This, I realized, must have been their Hail Mary – to go down in flames before getting caught.  Moreover, it sounds like they were headed to MIT to wreck havoc before heading to Harvard — only to have the police chase them further out to Watertown.

Shooting at Watertown

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Police at Watertown on April 19th, 2013. Photo Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images

There were reports of a shoot-down in Watertown along with the potential of bombs. At some point during the shooting, police captured the first suspect. Some people report that he was run over and shot. Later it was confirmed that the suspect (now identified as  Tamerlan Tsarnaev) had died. The second suspect (now identified as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev) got away.

Bomb Threats

Throughout the night, there were more potential bomb reports. Around 2 A.M., the police suspected a bomb at Massachusetts General Hospital. At 4:50 A.M., Harvard sent out another warning: “Harvard Alert: MIT reports a suspicious package being investigated near 500 Memorial Drive. Avoid the area.”

I woke up to texts telling me to stay indoors and that all classes were cancelled. Currently Boston is in a lock-down as the police are on the manhunt for Dzhokhar. He has been identified and his home and his relatives’ house in Watertown have been surrounded in case he’s trying to hide.

Police Response

My friends ask me if I feel safe. In all honesty, I didn’t sleep super well. I have sensitive ears, so every time a door slammed in the morning, I started imagining bombs. However, there are so many cops around – there is the Harvard University police, the Boston/Cambridge/Watertown police, SWAT teams, FBI… There continues to be cops whizzing past my window. And with hardly anyone outside and Dzhokhar identified, I believe it’s only a matter of time before he is caught. The police force has been incredibly impressive over the last 24 hours, reacting instantly to the robbery, shooting, bomb threats, and securing the safety of civilians.

Still confused?

Feel free to ask me any questions. Also, here is a helpful map provided by Quartz:


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14 thoughts on “Play-By-Play: What Happened In Boston Last Night

    • Alice L says:

      Thank you for your kind words! I felt with all the chaos and confusion going on in the media, I would do my best to relate how things unfolded last night for me. I just hope it helps people understand what was going on.


  1. This is an amazing account from right near where everything is going on. I am not sure how you slept at all being so close to everything, I am not so sure I would have been so comfortable not knowing where these men were at any given moment. Hopefully the final suspect is brought down soon so it brings back a little bit of normalcy to your area. I cannot begin to imagine how tough it must be not knowing where this guy is. The only comfort in it all, and I think you touched on it a bit, is that the police presence is strong and the last suspect should be able to be brought down soon enough.

    Thanks again for stopping my my blog and this was a great account of events.


    • Alice L says:

      Thanks for reading! Yeah, I have some friends who didn’t sleep a wink. I really floated in and out, particularly in the morning. I definitely feel grateful for all these hardworking police officers who are continuing to risk their lives for our safety. I hope the last suspect is captured soon and we can not only sleep soundly, but finally get some answers.


  2. My husb said when he watched the news this morning; a reporter said, ” I can’t tell you what the police said to the suspect – a guy in the back ground said, ” did they tell you they kicked him in the head, called him names And beat the F— out of him?”
    Then when they replayed it – they took out the background audio.

    My question is…
    (I know my grammar sucks)

    – have you heard about this?
    – do you think it was okay for the cops to do it? Personally I would like for the suspect to be released to the victims families and everyone turn a blinde eye. Terrorists are cowards.
    – why do you think Marshall Law has yet to be declared?
    – do you think his family will be deported?


    • Alice L says:

      Sorry for the late reply! I haven’t heard about this. First of all, after watching most of “The Wire,” I would not be completely surprise by police beatings occasionally. In this case, with the suspect, if it happened I’m not really that surprised. When a cop is injured or killed, the police force often becomes extreeeeemely aggravated. They want vengeance for harming one of their own. On top of that, this 19 year old boy murdered three innocent people and injured more than a hundred more with the Boston Marathon bombing AND THEN he and his brother went on to terrorize an entire city for 23 hours. Is it okay? The black and white answer is no, it’s not okay. The boy was wounded in the leg, hand, neck, and head apparently, suffering from massive blood loss. He was also probably dehydrated. However, the grayer answer is that it happens. I understand that these police officers had stayed up more than 22 hours (they had no sleep since Thursday morning). They were under extreme pressure and emotional distress. I don’t think it was “okay” for them to do it, but I don’t think anyone will hold it against them.

      As for Marshall Law, the suspect is a U.S. citizen. And while drastic measures call for drastic actions, I would prefer we try to remain as just and civilized in this situation as possible.

      I hope his family won’t be deported. They have done nothing wrong. You can’t help who you are related to. If your cousin shoots someone tomorrow, should you be held accountable? The answer is no. There is no doubt that the family will be under surveillance by the U.S. (at least that’s my belief), but it would be wrong for these innocent family members to be deported. Honestly, the most irrational of the family members seem to be the bombers’ aunt and father, but they aren’t even in the U.S.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! I would love to hear your opinion on my answers, and feel free to ask me anything else you’re curious about.


      • I totally understand what you’re saying about the police beating etc. Personally, I most likely would of…… <— I do not want to be inappropriate on your blog. :). I was just more interested in your opinion.
        Side note: I do think having over 2000 officers respond when the gentlemen was found in the mans boat. I think if he did have a bomb it could have resulted more casualties. Maybe 1000 responding would of been sufficient, I guess. I do understand the severity, absolutely. Maybe I just think too much.
        Marshall Law: I wasn't alive in the 60's, I embarrassed to say I am not 100% sure if the last time it was declared; I do believe it was in the 60's when a group of teens ( I think!) took over a town in Ohio? I was just curious since you never know who is behind what.. If someone refused to let the police in to search, some people are funny like that.

        I found some articles since the capture; you may have heard about such as: an aspiring writer who was a former client of the mother who went to her house for facials, the wife — working 80 hour weeks and the uncle talks about he would ask Susp 1 what he waa doing with his life and S1 would say he was doing Gods will and the uncle said he was just using words to use them etc., former room-mate murder unsolved along with 2 others. all found with their throats slit an covered in Marijuana. I can tell you now; unless this was a drug deal gone bad with Susp. 1 it is out of the norm for a normal drug deal gone bad murderer to put Marijuana on the person they killed, every ounce is valuable if you catch my drift 😉
        Have you read any? I know you are extremely busy 🙂
        What an honor it is that you attend Harvard. I know you worked your butt off; let's be clear.. LOL .. I know that! I am very proud of you.

        Today with the Internet, It is amazing how people ( like we are now ) can discuss things, most importantly; trust rely and on people like yourself v/s the media. What a joke CNN has become! If you get a chance check out the twitter account: @CNN_NakedMan parody, the tweets thanking them for taking the time to pixelate his man hood and still showing


      • Anyhow, the account thanks CNN after taking the time to pixelate his manhood and finding out he was not a suspect asks if they would mind handing him his pants along with his dignity.

        If you look at @J_Tsar acct (bomber #2) check out his supporters, it is VERY DISTURBING! Accounts such as seeking4allah have a petition going around claiming he is innocent. There is also a picture that he posted that he says proves his innocence. my response was harsh of course 🙂 I also a called him a dicktective! Pardon my language.
        I want to thank you for the posting the actual events and am very sorry you had to experience this. I hope it does not affect you, instead becomes something that you can use for your future. I hope that makes sense.


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