An ambulance containing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, departs 67 Franklin St., where he was discovered hiding inside a boat in Watertown, Mass. Credit: Reuters
The harrowing shootout between the accused Boston Marathon bombers and Watertown police was recounted in dramatic detail on Wednesday for a Congressional committee examining the lessons learned from the attack.
"For eight and a half minutes we were the best damn police department in the world," said Watertown Police Chief Ed Deveau, who recalled how his officers narrowly avoided bullets and bombs being aimed at them allegedly by Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Deveau along with Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese, former Boston police commissioner Ed Davis and Harvard professor Herman Leonard testified before a U.S. House Homeland Security Committee meeting titled "The Boston Marathon Bombings, One Year On: A Look Back to Look Forward."
Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas praised the work of the first responders and said their bravery the night of April 19 stopped further people from being hurt.
"Our nation could have been further terrorized. These terrorists had six more bombs in their car and they were on their way to Times Square," McCaul said.
The law enforcement officials and experts were asked by committee members what lessons they learned and the how the communication during the response and manhunt could have been improved.
Deveau said in situations like the Marathon attacks it would help to include not just large departments and agencies, but also smaller ones like Watertown.
"In Watertown ... doesn't make sense to have somebody on the [Joint Terrorism Task Force] on a full-time basis, but when something like this happens we need to have access to that table and play a role there," he said.
The hearing comes just days before the first anniversary of the Marathon bombings. It also comes just days before the airing of a TV program on the National Geographic Channel titled "Inside the Hunt for the Boston Bombers."
The two-hour show, which will air Sunday at 9 p.m., uses news media footage, amateur-shot video, firsthand accounts and dramatic recreations, to follow the days after the bombings as information unfolded. National Geographic said the producers received unprecedented access to the FBI, Boston Police Department, survivors of the bombings and those caught up in the manhunt.