For Capuano, Boston attack is personal

The terrorist attack in Boston hit especially close to home for Rep. Mike Capuano. 

The Massachusetts Democrat, an eight-term lawmaker whose district includes the site of the deadly bombings, knows a couple of the victims’ families. 

“The Campbell family lived in my district. [Krystle] grew up here, she went to high school with my kids. The grandmother is an old friend,” Capuano said.

Campbell, a 29-year-old native of Medford, Mass., was buried on Monday after an emotional funeral service. 

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The congressman also knows the family of Martin Richard, the 8-year-old who died last week near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. 

Capuano noted that most people in the Boston area knew someone who was hurt or killed in the April 15 bombing.

The die-hard Red Sox fan described the roller coaster-like week to The Hill in a phone interview.

Flying back to his home district early Thursday morning with fellow Massachusetts lawmakers on Air Force One, Capuano said there was a sense of frustration onboard.

The suspects were on the loose, and information on was scarce. 

President Obama told the downtrodden Massachusetts delegation that the bombing was a tragedy and reiterated his commitment to catching those responsible. Yet, he had little information to share, Capuano recalled. 

“In these situations there’s no inside information that really helps ... I know that some people think there is, but that’s a TV show, that’s not reality,” he said.

Capuano said that in crisis situations, the best thing an elected official can do is “stay out of the way.” 

“I have a pretty strong opinion of what politicians should do in these situations, and it is to stay out of the way to let the law enforcement do their job. I have no added value … I didn’t want them to take one extra second to worry about my feelings or briefing me on something,” Capuano explained. 

The former Somerville, Mass., mayor was returning to his Capitol Hill office when he learned of the bombings.

At first, “I heard it from somebody who had emailed me something about the area [being] locked down and I didn’t think anything of it … Being a member of Congress we get these things all the time ... then I heard it from some people I trusted and saw it on TV,” Capuano said.

He subsequently organized a moment of silence on the House floor that took place later in the day. By Thursday night, Capuano was back home.

Before redistricting in 2012, Capuano represented the streets of Watertown, Mass., which was completely locked down Friday. He said he knows the area well.

“Norfolk Street, where the [suspects lived], is literally 50 feet from the Somerville line, and it’s in my district. I know these neighborhoods intimately,” he said. “I know where the shootout was.”

On Friday, Capuano said he was outside “a little bit” when the manhunt intensified. “The streets were pretty empty. People were probably scared to death,” he said.

Capuano stressed that he wasn’t surprised that his fellow Bostonians banded together and thanked authorities with an impromptu parade in the streets following the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. 

“The American Revolution didn’t start up here by accident,” Capuano said, “I lost count how many vigils we’ve had around the greater Boston area. I’m guessing well more than 50, maybe 100, and vigils where you get 10 people or a thousand people together.”

The onetime Senate candidate said he was touched by the sentiments expressed by fellow lawmakers from rival New York state, especially the Yankees fans among them. 

He even told them, “I will say nothing bad about the Yankees from now until Aug. 1. On Aug. 1, I can go back to normal, but from now until Aug. 1, it’s off. And if I say anything bad, I authorize you to give me a little slap,” he told The Hill. 

“This is bigger than baseball, this is bigger than that kind of silly rivalry, and to me it was incredibly touching, and not because of the rivalry but because of the fact that they’ve been through it and they know that with all the nonsense, we’re still one big, huge country and we care about each other.”