On Boston's near-empty streets, sirens and empty storefronts

CBC's John Rieti reports from downtown Boston, where police stood guard on street corners, eyeing closed storefronts and almost empty sidewalks. Residents were urged to stay inside most of the day, but the lockdown was lifted Friday evening.

Schools were closed, sporting events cancelled as police hunted for bombing suspect

In downtown Boston, police stood guard on almost every street corner along Massachusetts Avenue, eyeing closed storefronts and almost empty sidewalks. Residents were urged to stay inside most of the day, while a lockdown was enforced as police hunted for the marathon bombings suspect.

"It’s almost like living in a police state," graduate student Marissa Gilburd said Friday, sitting on the front step of her apartment with her husband, Joe, and sister-in-law Rachael.

"I would rather they do this, though," she said of the police shutdown.

"These guys really knew how to make bombs."

The manhunt for bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ended Friday night when he was found by police in Watertown, a Boston suburb. His brother died early Friday after a gunfight with police.

The Gilburds, from left, Joe, Rachael and Marissa, have been keeping in touch with worried family members in Arizona on Friday, and checking for police updates about the manhunt on the stoop of their downtown Boston apartment. (John Rieti/CBC)

While the manhunt for Dzhokhar centred on Watertown, which is on the Cambridge side of the Charles River and several kilometres away, the state ordered Boston residents to stay inside for hours. Universities and businesses closed, and taxis were briefly ordered off the roads. By mid-afternoon, home games for the Bruins and Red Sox had been postponed.

It's still wasn't a quiet city.

Emergency vehicles became a permanent part of Boston's sound, to the point where it was odd when there wasn't the sound of a helicopter overhead or a convoy of police cars racing to a new site of concern. Since the marathon, anything remotely suspicious merited an emergency response.

'They're afraid'

On Newbury Street, two bomb squad trucks — black pick-up trucks with huge boxes of equipment on the back — roared past construction manager Marcos Pires.

Pires had been locked out of his Copley Square office, but still came to work Friday, unlike some of his workers.

"Many of my guys didn’t want to work," Pires said. "They’re afraid."

Not everyone stayed inside.

"I’m so sick of waiting around," one woman stopped at a red light during a morning run said. Several people walked their dogs.

The Massachusetts Avenue and Newbury Street area is one of Boston’s main shopping destinations and when Boston's universities are open its cafes and stores full of people.

On Friday, nobody was window shopping. Those outside were glued to their phones, checking for news about the manhunt.

'What's the point?'

Memphis resident John Langan, visiting Boston while his wife is at a surgery conference, decided to come out and photograph one of Boylston Street’s memorials for the marathon victims. He had been watching it grow all week, and it left him wondering why bombers went after the marathon.

At Steve's Greek Cuisine, a customer watches the latest news at the bar. (John Rieti/CBC)

"I don’t know why someone would do this … I mean, what’s the point?" Langan said, shaking his head.

Langan said he wasn't worried about being out in the Boston streets, despite the gruff warnings from local police. One barked at him: "If I wasn’t here I’d be home, locked in my house."

Langan wasn’t alone in ignoring the police orders. Chris Kourtidis runs Steve's Greek Cuisine, the only restaurant open near Massachusetts Ave. and barely a kilometre from the scene of the marathon blasts.

"We're here, people are coming, so we're open," Kourtidis said, adding he'll stay open until police tell him directly to shut down.

CBC News speaks to Canadians in Boston

CBC News offices across the country have also spoken to Canadians stranded in Boston. Here's a round-up:

With files from CBC News in Toronto