Bulger's return to South Boston draws a crowd
BOSTON -- The return of captured mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger to South Boston added to the excitement of day out for Joe Roache and more than a dozen members of his family.
Roache, a 51-year-old Randolph resident, went to the Children's Museum with 13 members of his family and then had a late lunch at a nearby South Boston restaurant. Across the street at the federal courthouse, Roache saw a crowd gathering and growing larger by the minute. He then heard someone mention that Bulger was coming back to South Boston and was scheduled to make his first court appearance following his arrest this week by the FBI.
As Bulger was brought to federal court, dozens of tourists, curious downtown workers and reporters packed the sidewalks in front and waited for who once the FBI's most wanted man. Despite light showers and grey clouds, the onlookers took photos with smart phones, asked federal police about Bulger and pointed to armed U.S. Coast Guard boats in the harbor behind the courthouse.
The 81-year-old Bulger is accused of dozens of crimes, including 19 murders.
"We were at the right place at the right time," Roache said. "We all came over here with my six grandkids, although only one probably knows what this is all about."
The crowd of reporters and spectators swelled hours before Bulger arrived. Dozens of Boston police and federal agents surrounded the courthouse ahead of the return of the man who eluded authorities for 16 years.
Inside the building, another crowd gathered to fight for seats in the courtroom. Some tried to push and shove their way in just as federal marshals opened the doors. "We're not going to have a riot here," one of the court officers yelled.
Bulger arrived tucked inside one of four heavily armed black SUVs with tinted windows. The vehicles also were surrounded by police. But that didn't stop those in the crowd from snapping photos and immediately uploading them to Twitter and Facebook, despite the area's notoriously bad cell service.
Margaret Chaberek had little connection to the case but was at the courthouse at noon on Friday. "I'm here to see him get what he deserves," she said.
Chaberek grew up in Bulger's home base of South Boston. She was a child during the height of his career and didn't really know about him until news reports after he fled Boston.
She said she was an extra in the movie, "The Departed," whose crime boss character was based on Bulger.
Ina Corcoran, of Braintree, said she decided to drop by on her day off to witness history.
After the court appearance, Bulger was whisked away in a dark SUV, with federal agents holding machine guns.
"There are a lot of people who probably want him dead," Roache said. "I don't know if he's going to make it."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)