Watertown Police Chief Recalls Shootout On Eve Of Retirement

WATERTOWN (CBS) – Watertown’s police chief has spent his entire law enforcement career protecting the streets of his hometown. And now that Ed Deveau is retiring after 32 years on the force, he can’t help but recall the most dramatic and terrifying days on the job: April 18 and 19, 2013.

“You had my officers thinking there was going to be a couple young kids that stole a car to all of a sudden being in a fight for their lives,” Deveau says.

Officers in Watertown were responding to a call out of Cambridge for a suspected carjacker driving a Mercedes SUV. The driver turned out to be Tamerlan Tsarnaev; behind him was a car being driven by his brother Dzhokhar. The men had just days earlier bombed the Boston Marathon finish line, killing three people – and just hours earlier assassinated an on-duty MIT police officer.

Cornered on Laurel Street, the Tsarnaevs fired their weapons and lobbed more bombs at Watertown police.

Deveau says he has replayed that night in his head countless times and continues to feel it’s some kind of miracle that no police officers were killed.

“You do the best you can,” he told WBZ while standing at the site on Monday, the day before he was set to retire. “It’s not going to be perfect; it’s way beyond our training. Right here, what happened on Laurel Street, I would always rate this as an A+.”

Earlier this year, the official state “after action” report on the aftermath of the bombings praised much of what law enforcement did that week, but also suggested room for improvement. Deveau agrees.

For one thing, the chief says, he called for too many officers to respond to Watertown, creating a situation in which it was hard for those officers to tell who was in charge. That created sometimes chaotic scenes.

‘[MBTA police officer] Dic Donohue more likely than not was shot by crossfire up at that intersection [on Laurel Street],” Deveau says, adding, “I’ve thought about this hundreds of times now and I think you could have had the best leader at that intersection and they never would have dreamt that it could have happened the way it did.”

But the chief says his department, and others, have already learned lessons from mistakes made then.

Police on Laurel Ave after shootout with marathon bombing suspects.
Police on Laurel Ave after shootout with marathon bombing suspects.
“If Watertown happens again, we’ll do a better job,” Deveau says. “It’s never going to be perfect in a chaotic situation. But we can do better. We want to do better.”

Leaving his department after 14 years as its chief is bittersweet, he says.

“To walk away is a little bit sad, but I’m really proud of where the department is right now,” Deveau explained.

His departure comes just days after the younger Tsarnaev brother was formally sentenced to die for his crimes. That is not a coincidence.

“I didn’t even consider retirement until the trial was over,” Deveau says. “I’ve been with my officers right from April 19th. I always told them I would be with them until the finish line. So it was important for me to see the trial through to be with them, knowing they were going to testify, to bring it to a full conclusion.”

The chief made it a point to be at federal court almost every day of the bomber’s trial.

“I think it was so important for me to be there,” he says. “I felt like I was representing our police department and our community.”

Tile work, Gür-i Amir, Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

First evening in Samarkand, when I was hours away from coming down with a case of Tamerlane’s Revenge, we walked around the corner from our hotel to the mausoleum of the great and powerful Amir Temür, the west’s Tamurlane. 

I won’t lie. As mausoleums go … it’s pretty awesome.

Photo by Christopher Rose.

“When I rise from the dead, the world shall tremble.”

“Who ever opens my tomb, shall unleash an invader more terrible than I.”-alleged script from Timur’s tomb and casket

February 18, 1405- After a lifetime of conquest and war, on the march to defeat the one power in the world who could even dare to challenge him, Timur, also known as Tamerlane, dies en route to invade Ming China. Starting out as the leader of a small raiding band, Timur would become the master of an empire spanning from his his capital at Samarkand, down into India, across Afghanistan and all of Iran, to Baghdad, Anatolia, and the Caucasus, though he never took a title for himself higher than Emir. Despite his brutal tactics and nature, the storied pyramids of skulls, Samarkand became a center of culture and art in the Islamic world. He spread Persian learning to Transoxiana and Timurid architecture, itself inspired by a mosque in Damascus, would evolve into the onion domes of Russian churches and the beautiful spires of the Taj Mahal. 

‘Then shall my native city, Samarcanda…
Be famous through the furthest continents,
For there my palace-royal shall be placed,
Whose shining turrets shall dismay the heavens,
And cast the fame of Iion’s tower to hell.’

  -Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine the Great                                         

Picture- A forensic facial reconstruction of Timur by M. Gerasimov (1941).

Imad al-Din Mahmud al-Kashi. The book of the birth of Iskandar.

Horoscope of Prince Iskandar, grandson of Tamerlane, the Turkman Mongol conqueror. This horoscope shows the positions of the heavens at the moment of Iskandar’s birth on 25th April 1384.

This is a fly leaf from the personal horoscope of Iskandar Sultan (died 1415), grandson of Timur, who ruled the province of Farsin, Iran. He is best known for his early military career and his patronage of the arts and sciences.


Noratus cemetery  Նորատուսի գերեզմանատուն’

Medieval Armenian cemetary with a great amount of early Khachkars in the Noratus village, Located in Gegharkunik province of Armenia. 

The cemetary became the largest historical Armenian cemetary after the vile destruction of the ten thousand khachkar cemetary in Julfa, Nakhichevan by Azeris. 

The oldest  khackhars date to ninth century and they are spread over a seven hectare field with over a thousand medieval khachkars, all with unique ornamentations depicting farm life, weddings, royalty and religious depictions. The cemetary is named after the nearby village of Noratus which has evidence of a settlement form the Bronze Age and also the ninth century Holy Virgin Church. Many believe Noratus is named after the medieval fortress founded by Prince Gegham.

A popular folktale speaks about when the massive monstrous army of Timur the Lame was invading, The defenceless villagers dressed the khachkars up as soldiers by placing helmets on the top and leanind swords towards them. From a distance in the foggy Armenian mountains it looked like armed soldiers standing strong, this resulted in Tamerlanes army retreating.

“Long have we wished for war with you. Now, the praise be to God, it is at hand. If you do not come seek us, we shall pursue you to Sultaniah. Then we will see who will be exalted by victory and cast down by defeat.”

-Sultan Bayezid

July 20, 1402- Timur, Tamerlane, decisively defeats the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid at the Battle of Ankara. Timur’s army outnumbered the Sultan’s 2:1 and was exclusively cavalry, one hundred and a half thousand mounted archers. Tensions had been building between the two rulers for years, with many insulting letters going between Bursa and Samarkand. While Bayezid was campaigning in Hungary, Timur invaded Anatolia, sacking and burning everything in his path and slaughtering the Ottoman forces arrayed against him. Bayezid wheeled around to meet the threat, but only the Serbs and Wallachian knights serving the Sultan were immune to the Tartar arrows. Timur had the nearby creek diverted and the Ottoman army, beaten, bloody, tired, and thirsty finally surrendered. 

Bayezid himself, once know as Yıldırım, the Thunderbolt, became the only Ottoman Sultan to be captured in battle. Various accounts proclaim that Timur carried the sultan around in a golden cage and Bayezid eventually bashed his own head in on the bars in despair, but most evidence supports that Timur treated his foe with respect and even mourned his passing the following year. With Bayezid’s capture and death, the Ottoman Empire was thrown into the Interregnum, an 11 year civil war between four of Bayezid’s sons that threatened to destroy the nascent empire. 

Europe breathed a sigh of relief at such a monumental defeat for the Turks. Timur was hailed as a hero and savior and his banners were even flown over the town of Galata. The Kings of France and England praised him for his respectful behavior towards Christians. Bayezid’s siege of Constantinople was broken and the Byzantine Empire was allowed a respite from the Turks. Admiration soon turned to horror as this new conqueror out of Asia decimated Anatolia in fury at the Italian sailors who carried Turks across the water to Europe. Still, it was this event that planted the image of Tamerlane into the minds of Europeans. Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great was one of the first high-Elizabethan dramas and influenced English plays for the next century.

Picture- The Battle of Ankara, unknown date and author