Watertown officer who took down Boston Marathon bombing suspect retires after 30 years in the force

WATERTOWN, Mass. — Dozens lined Main Street in Watertown for a special send-off after Sergeant John MacLellan finished his last shift as a police officer Tuesday.

MacLellan worked for the Watertown Police Department for 30 years.

“I can’t believe it, to see so many of my family and friends here, I wasn’t expecting to be able to see because of all the social distancing, but we do have a big parking lot and they were able to take it outside,” said MacLellan, surprised by the large gathering. “It’s great, it’s great to see everybody.”

MacLellan was one of the officers who engaged the Tsarnaev brothers in an armed standoff a few days after the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013.

Some of the shots fired went right into MacLellan’s windshield with a bullet striking his headrest, but he was able to help take down Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the shootout.

His fellow officers found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding in Watertown the next day.

“In those back streets of Watertown, those officers were in a long, seven and a half minute gun battle, and those three officers that were there that night are still working tonight, still working here today all of them on the night shift too,” said Chief Michael Lawn.

MacLellan has been recognized around the world for his heroic acts that night.

It’s something he’ll never forget, although sometimes he tries to.

“You do think about it, but more and more I’m thinking about the good things that came out of it and not the bad things, so you know it took a little while but, we’re bringing it around to the good side,” said MacLellan.

Those good moments are what Chief Michael Lawn says will fill MacLellan’s legacy, not just that historic night.

“I’ll remember John for that, but the most thing I’ll remember him by is the good heart that he has,” said Lawn. “He’s got the biggest heart than anyone I know. He’s the guy that’s out there championing for the less fortunate in our town, and that’s what I’m most proud of him about.”

MacLellan says he plans to keep giving back to the community during his retirement, and he looks forward to doing more work with his church at Saint Patrick’s in Watertown.