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April 19. 2013 3:38PM

Boston tragedy strikes close to home for Moultonborough police chief

MOULTONBOROUGH - "Please somehow let this come to an end without losing any more lives," said Police Chief Leonard Wetherbee as the search for the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings continued through Friday.

The question, "How many people are going to die before this last suspect is taken into custody," was on his mind through the tension filled day with the manhunt dominating the news. The search for the second of two suspects, identified as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, Mass., continued Friday afternoon. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26. Tamerlan was killed in a police shootout overnight.

Like others in the Lakes Region, Wetherbee has strong ties to the metropolitan Boston area. Prior to joining the Moultonborough Police Department a year ago, Wetherbee served as police chief in Concord, Mass.

As a former chief of the 50-member Northeast Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council Motor Unit, which provides assistance during large spectator events such as the Boston Marathon and celebratory parades for Boston’s sports teams, Wetherbee would have been on alert this past Patriot’s Day, a holiday in Massachusetts.

Watching the television coverage on CNN, Wetherbee said he recognized some officers he worked with or knew from the S.W.A.T. team or regional motor units on the screen.

"Sitting up here in Moultonborough, certainly part of me is down there. The thought of why they are there is sobering," he said, adding that usually the motor unit works during celebrations, not tracking down suspects who may have killed people.

He said usually law enforcement has been on alert on Patriots Day since the April 19, 1993 Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas, that resulted in 68 deaths, and the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing attack that killed 168 people. “We’d stay alert. I’d hold my breath all day long,” he said.

This year was different. It was Wetherbee’s first Patriots Day working outside Massachusetts. It was just a normal working day, or so he thought.

“I didn’t have that pressure. Then, in the afternoon, I heard about the bombings,” he said.


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