An Irish bar owner was at the heart of the fast moving events shown worldwide in Watertown last night.
John Donohue (42), who traces his roots to Athlone, was tending his bar on Bigelow Avenue, called Donohue’s, in the Boston suburb around 1.30am last night when several people came running into the bar warning him that police were pouring into the street just a few hundred yards away.
Donohue rushed outside and saw a solid blue line of cops and cruisers with FBI, Massachusetts State Police, Boston Police and SWAT teams pour into the street.
Earlier he had watched the report of a robbery and shooting at a 7-Eleven in Boston but had not tied the two events together.
“There were two blocks from me, 500 yards then the shooting started,” he said. He ran back into the pub and told his staff to take cover.
“We heard the gunshots 20 to 30 in a row and then all of a sudden two large explosions and more gunshots and then a very large explosion.”
When the shooting stopped he went outside and tried to get to his house to ensure his family was safe. Cops agreed to lock down his pub with the staff still inside.
On the way home he was surrounded at gunpoint by police officers and had to explain who he was.
He had to go back to the pub but eventually got home around 3.30am where he found his family frightened but safe.
As Friday wore on the reaction continued and he was back in his pub ensuring all was well for his staff.
As we spoke two Blackhawk helicopters landed nearby and more troops poured out.
“There are police here from everywhere, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
He estimated there was close to 1,000 cops on the scene.
It pains him that his beloved town where he has run Donohue’s bar for 15 years is at the center of the world for all the wrong reasons.
“Its my home town, its a wonderful place, the whole world is watching but I have very mixed emotions” he said.
Donohue is a local city councilor in Boston. His last trip to Athlone (the Roscommon side) was four years ago with his wife and four kids. He knows he will have a great story to tell next time he’s over.
“I just hope everyone is safe” he said.
Here's the Huffington Post's update on the Watertown situation: