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April 24, 2013

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

Patrick W. Allen

One man, an immigrant armed with a cigarette, did what 20 law enforcement agencies and one thousand officers had tried to do but couldn't. Today, millions of smokers across America raise their BIC lighters against the night sky in solidarity with Watertown Massachusetts resident David Henneberry of 67 Franklin Street.


At 6:08 P.M. on Friday April 19th, Massachusetts Gov. Duval Patrick and senior law enforcement officials held a press conference to formally withdraw the "Shelter-In-Place" order which had the metropolitan Boston region on virtual lock-down.


Boston’s now historic lockdown lasted 16 anxious hours following the murder of 26-year-old MIT campus police officer Sean Collier, who was the same age as Suspect #1. But unlike Suspect #2, who was still alive and able to continue his madness, Officer Collier' was brutally assassinated long before his life's potential could be realized.


As we now know, the two suspects continued on their frantic odyssey of escape by carjacking a Mercedes and withdrawing $800 from the car owner's ATM account. So, who got the money? Did Suspect #1, the older brother, put all of the money in his pocket? Was it given to Suspect #2 for safe keeping or was it divided between the two of them just in case they separated as they ran? Yes, separated they were, but not until they faced their pursuers with firearms and homemade grenades.


Suspect #1, having been shot numerous times and critically wounding a Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority officer in the process, tried to reload his weapon when he was tackled to the ground by a police officer who saw the opportunity and took it. Suspect #1 was face down on the pavement, wearing a suicide vest and soon to be pronounced dead after being transported by ambulance to Beth Israel Hospital.


This is an eerie coincidence given that several floors above the morgue, Beth Israel's world renowned medical staff was continuing to care for victims of the Patriots Day mayhem. Suspect #2, most likely seeing his brother go down and the futility of staying in place to continue the fire fight alone, chose to get behind the wheel of the Mercedes and make his escape, but not before backing the SUV over his brother. It would be determined later, four blocks away from the shootout, that the remaining suspect was wounded as he ran the gauntlet of police officers standing between himself and perceived freedom in the darkness beyond.


Law enforcement eventually found the Mercedes, with no one inside, but a clear indication that Suspect #2 had been shot and was trailing a significant amount of blood. How serious were his injuries? Was he shot once or multiple times? Was he wearing a suicide vest as well? Did he have any firearms and if yes, what kind of fire power did law enforcement face?


No one knew. Law enforcement could only be certain that a 19-year-old athlete, running on adrenaline, scared and wounded, was running to ground like a wounded fox. If you have ever hunted fox with a long rifle, you know that when wounded the fox will run to ground as quickly as possible, hiding under the first available rotting tree trunk or pile of leaves.


During the early evening press conference it was stated that law enforcement did not know the location of Suspect #2, but would like for citizens to come out of their homes and businesses ... go about their lives as if everything was alright, but keep a sharp eye because a murderer was still on the loose. Throughout the metropolitan Boston region, specifically in Watertown, if not across the nation, those words by the governor and law enforcement personnel drew a palpable sigh of disappointment and bewilderment. Glad we got one of 'em, but how did the other one slip away?


There will be plenty of time for reflection regarding law enforcement decisions and procedures once the postmortem is completed and the after action reports have been analyzed. But, only a couple of days into the investigation, we do know some interesting facts regarding Suspect #2, the 19 year old.


1. He appears to have been wounded in the leg during the shootout 16 hours earlier.


2. He appears to have used his athletic prowess to "run like a fox" as described above.


3. He found a hiding place just one half mile, 2,600 feet, from the shootout scene and only one block outside of the search perimeter.


4. He appears to have attempted suicide by shooting himself through the mouth. The bleed-out begins in earnest.


And David Henneberry, who had been caged up in his house all day,  took a smoke break in his back yard ...  discovered the suspect ... then called the police ... which ended in the suspect’s arrest before he could pass away and take the information and secrets we need to know with him.


Smoking. Not good for some, but saved a life when it was vitally important to do so. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.


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