Friday’s massive manhunt in Watertown for Boston marathon bombings suspect included members of the Martha’s Vineyard Tactical Response team.
Edgartown police chief Antone Bettencourt said Monday that the Island team, a highly-skilled group of officers from most Island police departments, was called to Boston last Friday to assist with a search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is a suspect in last week’s bombings that killed three people and seriously wounded almost 200 people.
Mr. Bettencourt told the board of selectmen that the team spent about five hours in Watertown searching houses, including attics, cars and basements. While the team conducted their searches, officers back at home followed their progress.
“I think knowing you actually had police officers up there in the middle of it makes it even more nerve-wracking,” Mr. Bettencourt told the Gazette after the meeting. “We were all hoping for a good conclusion.”
While the officers were searching through buildings, including crawl spaces, residents asked where they were from. “People of Watertown were very happy that we were there,” he said. “It’s an experience nobody will ever forget.”
The team first went up for a midnight shift last Wednesday, providing security at hotels. On Friday morning, the team received a second call to duty.
Mr. Bettencourt said that after officers left for Boston, the Chilmark Police department was short-handed, so Edgartown sent an officer to Chilmark to help with coverage. “We all adapted,” he said.
Vineyard officers are headed back to Boston on Wednesday to attend the funeral of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, who was shot and killed Thursday evening.
Chief Bettencourt said six Edgartown police officers will be among 10,000 to 15,000 people attending the funeral at noon on Wednesday. Island officers will be leaving on the first ferry, he said, and will meet with other officers to be bussed to the funeral.
The board of selectmen voted to send letters of appreciation to Edgartown police officers and tactical team members James Craig and Nicholas Phelps, as well as the entire team.