Boston area residents awoke to a city virtually paralyzed after a night of mayhem that left at least two dead and police searching house to house for a suspect believed to be responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings.
As dawn broke over the city, police had already ordered a shutdown of all public transit in the region while officers armed with assault rifles conducted a search in Watertown, 10 miles west of downtown Boston, looking for Dzhokar Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old foreign national who had escaped during a confrontation with police.
Governor Deval Patrick ordered businesses closed in Watertown, Newton, Waltham, Belmont, Cambridge and Boston, while area schools from Harvard University to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston College canceled classes. Companies that have told employees to stay home included Athenahealth Inc. (ATHN:US), Merck & Co. (MRK:US) and Pfizer Inc. (PFE:US)
“I’m watching CNN and looking at the streets around our office,” said Guy Macdonald, the CEO of Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals Inc. (TTPH:US) in Watertown. “It looks like a movie around our office right now.”
Tsarnaev ran over the other suspect, his older brother Tamerlan, during the shoot-out in Watertown, according to a federal law enforcement official.
The two men are believed to have robbed a convenience store last night before car-jacking a Mercedes SUV and leading police on a high-speed chase through the city’s normally tranquil suburbs. The brothers are believed to have shot and killed a campus policeman at MIT in Cambridge. At least one other officer, from the Transit Police, was wounded in a shootout with the suspects, according to Massachusetts State Police.
“There is a massive manhunt underway,” Patrick said at a televised news conference.
In an earlier statement, Patrick’s office urged people not go to transit stations. “Residents should not answer the door unless it is a police officer, and are advised to stay away from windows.”
Police urged residents to stay inside in a message on Twitter.
“Get in your house, get in your house,” police told Watertown residents in the night.
Amtrak halted service between Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. Logan International Airport remains open and operating under “heightened security,” according to Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for Massport, the airport operator. Boston police earlier had suspended taxi service via Twitter.
American Airlines has issued a waiver for people flying to or from Boston’s Logan International Airport today, allowing them to rebook flights without having to pay a fee. American issued the waiver because of the shutdown of mass transit in Boston and residents being advised to stay indoors during the search for the suspect in the bombings, said Andrea Huguely, an American spokeswoman.
US Airways Group Inc. (LCC:US) also has issued a waiver for Boston, said Todd Lehmacher, a spokesman. United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL:US) also issued a similar waiver for Boston passengers, and Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL:US) will waive fees on a one-off basis if customers request it, spokesmen for the carriers said.
Area schools that canceled classes for the day included Harvard, MIT, Tufts University, Emerson College, Simmons College, Suffolk University, Boston University, and Boston College, with some advising students to remain in their dormitories.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, closed its campus and said on its website that it was in the process of an evacuation. The university said it had learned that a person being sought in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing had been identified as a student registered at the school.
Companies that have told employees to stay home include Merck and Pfizer, which have research facilities in the area, according to people who answered the phone there. New York-based Pfizer, with at least three offices in Boston and Cambridge, says it has shut all its facilities in the area.
Partners HealthCare, which operates Massachusetts General Hospital suspended shuttle service during the manhunt. Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston isn’t allowing staff, patients or visitors to leave its facilities, the hospital said in a statement on its website. It is allowing staff, employees, patients and their families to enter the hospital if they have proper identification and advising everyone to follow the advice of public officials, the statement said.
Companies in two major Boston industries - health care and finance -- were also advising their employees to remain at home. Athenahealth, a provider of electronic medical records and billing services for doctors, has more than 1,000 workers at its headquarters in Watertown, a sprawling campus of brick-faced buildings where police have been gathering during the manhunt. With that location shut for the day, the company has shifted work to Belfast, Maine, and elsewhere.
“We are all good,” Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Bush said by e-mail. “Happy to be hosting half the law enforcement of the eastern U.S. at our offices.”
Tetraphase, which went public last month, has experiments running in its labs there, though those will have to wait, CEO Macdonald said. “I’m sure there’s nothing that’s critical, but we have some chemistry that we’ll have to look at tomorrow,” MacDonald said in a phone interview. “Catching this guy is way more important.”
Biogen Idec Inc. (BIIB:US), the fourth-largest biotechnology company by market value, closed its offices in Cambridge and Somerville for the day and told employees not to come in, a spokesman wrote in an e-mail. Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge said it closed its offices immediately following the police press conference at 6 a.m. Vertex, the maker of drugs for hepatitis C and cystic fibrosis, has “processes in place for events such as this and do not anticipate any impact to critical business operations,” spokesman Zach Barber said in an e-mail.
Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CBST:US), the maker of the antibiotic Cubicin, has its Lexington office open for anyone who can safely get in, said Julie DiCarlo, a spokeswoman. Many employees, though, “are under lock-down and can’t leave our homes,” she wrote in an e-mail.
Most main tourist sites in Boston are closed or are opening late, including the Museum of Science, Boston Children’s Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts. All branches of the Boston Public Library will have a delayed opening. State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein said via Twitter that the state “House of Representatives is CLOSED TODAY!!! Everyone stay in & stay safe.”
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