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THE AL GILKES COLUMN: Boston tragedy impact


Al Gilkes

THE AL GILKES COLUMN: Boston tragedy impact

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Boston has been my home away from home for several years now, primarily because my son Alex lives there with his wife Renee and twin sons Aidan and Amari along with a host of relatives and friends on both sides.
All of my holiday periods, which I previously spent in Trinidad and Tobago with occasional breaks in places such as New York, Los Angeles, St Lucia and Jamaica, are now spent in Boston.
So imagine the state of suspense and the deep concern in which and with which I found myself last Monday when the international media exploded with the shocking news that three people had been killed and more than 170 others seriously injured by two bombs close to the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
As the days passed and the scenes changed with the manhunt for the two suspected perpetrators, I automatically found myself glued to the various television news channels following every element of the unfolding scenario in districts and on streets that are as familiar to me as those in my own Husbands, St James and its environs in Barbados.
I became a round-the-clock multi-tasker flicking from TV channel to TV channel in search of the newest and latest information while checking the endless flood of eyewitness reports and mobile phone photos and videos on various social media.
In addition to the TV and computer, cell phone was also running hot with the constant BlackBerry Messenger and WhatsApp chatter with my relatives as I tried to keep their spirits high and allay mounting fears. This was especially so during the final chapters of the drama as the action moved dangerously close to their necks of the woods when a police officer was fatally shot in Cambridge on Thursday followed by the death of the older of the two brothers on the run.
It felt as if I was there on the ground in Boston experiencing the trauma as the thousands of heavily armed law enforcement personnel went street to street, house to house hunting for the second suspect, the younger 17-year-old brother and the city and suburbs were brought to a standstill with every living soul ordered to stay indoors.
What made the situation even tenser was when the dragnet failed to find its target resulting in the lockdown order being lifted but leaving residents uncertain about how to respond because of the lack of knowledge about where the wanted man might be hiding.
Fortunately, what could have been hours and even days of nerve wracking uncertainty soon ended when a resident of Watertown decided to look outside his home and noticed blood near a boat he had in his backyard. Out of curiosity, he opened the tarpaulin covering the boat, saw a man covered in blood and called police.
An hour or so later, after an exchange of gunfire with the suspect, Boston police were able to calm everybody’s nerves, including my own, with the tweet “CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.”
• Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm.

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