Can A Single Gun Lockdown A City?

American Butterfly 90: Shelter in place

J. Andrew Shelley
4 min readApr 18, 2022


Licensed by author from Shutterstock. By Ken Wolter.

Watching people run from the marathon bombs on Monday was terrifying. The next four days in Boston were almost as bizarre.

Hundreds had been injured by the two explosions. Many limbs were lost. Fortunately, only a few died: an eight-year-old American boy, an American woman, and a Chinese graduate student, also a woman.

We are familiar with violence in far away cities. It is easy to feel a tender sympathy for “them.” Talking about danger to “us” and our city, is wholly different.

Our family had been standing directly across the street from the site of the second explosion. Thankfully, our children had asked for food. Had we stayed there another hour we would have been witness to the explosions themselves. We would have heard the screams. Our young children may have seen the dead or the horribly maimed. They could have been hurt. We could have been hurt.

In retrospect, there is one other uniqueness about the way we experienced that violence. In 2013, news reporting was still grasping onto its daily cadence. Every person with a smartphone had not quite yet become the source of independent video streams monetized across the web.

Monday night we learned that the fire at the JFK Library was purely coincidental. It was an accident that occurred on the same day and roughly the same time. By chance. It had made sense for the bartender to connect the two incidents. Who knows in the fog of the moment?

At first investigators seemed to have no leads on the perpetrators, but by midweek they had released security camera images of two suspects. Thursday evening we heard the news that an MIT police officer had been shot dead at point-blank range. An assailant had tried to steal his holstered revolver.

Later that night there were reports of a massive gun battle, police officers from across New England vying with heavily-armed attackers. Early Friday morning we learned that one of the possible attackers had been subdued and killed.

Another suspected terrorist remained free. The Governor asked the city to lock down Friday. Schools were cancelled. Businesses were closed. All citizens were ordered to “shelter in place.”



J. Andrew Shelley

Battler for better. Top author in culture. More listening, more understanding, less outrage. Book: American Butterfly