What happened in Boston, Massachusetts two weeks ago was, in a way, a real reminder of how terror can strike and how quickly daily life can change. After hearing about the events at the marathon and the following manhunt no doubt many people were confused, tense, and fearful. And for me the events were all too familiar, even though I live nowhere near Boston.
For me terror came on March 13th, in the form of 64 year old Kurt Myers who went on a shooting spree in the towns of Mohawk and Herkimer, New York. He killed four people leaving two others wounded, but not before putting a whole town on edge, garnishing a response from the FBI, state/local police, and even the governor-Andrew Cuomo.
As the news of the killings spread, around ten-thirty in the morning, I was in the hallway of Herkimer County Community College rushing late to class to hand-in and present a research paper. I begin to notice few students in the hallway and as I arrived at my class the door was locked. Catching my breath, my professor opens the door and whispers for me to come in. “Daniel,” she said, “the school is on lock down, there is a man in the town shooting.”
At that point I discovered that turning in a late research paper was the least of my worries. What ensued was a six hour taste of what it is like to “shelter in place.”
For the people of Massachusetts their situation was more dramatic as two bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston marathon and a massive manhunt to locate those responsible went under way.
The nature of the situation encouraged law enforcement along with government officials to issue a “shelter-in-place” order on a magnitude dwarfing the incident in Herkimer. In the case of Myers, after his shooting spree, he was held up in a building where it seemed to be no possibility of escape. For the second suspect of the bombings, 19 year old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, he was on the loose. This difference was critical in the manner law enforcement dealt with both incidents.
In Herkimer the area cordoned off was miniscule, about a four block radius, as the stand-off was managed through the night into the early morning. In contrast, with a bombing suspect on the run, law enforcement began conducting door to door searches in the area of Watertown, Massachusetts in hopes of finding the teen. This raised eyebrows as to how future events will be handled.
What brought about the willingness to have militarized police remove people from their homes and conduct 4th Amendment-busting searches? It seems that the difference between an ordinary crime and an act of terror is how many people are allowed to be terrorized.
Whatever the reason it was not the massive lockdown nor the aggressive searching of homes that proved to be the crime stopper, but an average citizen excerscing his freedom and love for his boat.