The Edmond Sun

April 19, 2013

Police capture suspect in Boston bombings

Gunfire precedes finding him in a boat in suburban backyard


CNHI News Service

BOSTON — Police pinned down the Boston Marathon terror suspect in a small boat in a suburban Watertown backyard Friday night, exchanging gunfire before bringing him out wounded but alive, ending a day-long massive manhunt.

"We got him," tweeted Boston Mayor Thomas Manino.

The capture occurred soon after authorities held a news conference to announce the suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, had eluded the dragnet operation launched when he fled from a police shootout late Thursday night.

His older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, also a suspect, died in the shootout that featured 200 rounds of gunfire and the tossing of homemade pipe bombs at police.

The  bloody, chaotic drama unfolded after the FBI late Thursday afternoon released video and photo images of the suspects from a surveillance camera at the marathon finish line sites where two bombs exploded Monday, killing three and wounding 176, many gravely.

Heavily-armed police surrounded the suspect in the backyard boat, convincing him to surrender. Bomb squads were called in to make sure he was not carrying a hidden bomb. Once police were sure that wasn't the case, he was handcuffed and taken into custody.

Authorities said he was covered in blood when he emerged from the boat.

Officials lifted an emergency lockdown of metropolitan Boston at 6 p.m. Friday, 18 hours after it was imposed to protect the public safety. Thousands of residents were told to stay in their homes and lock their doors.

The announcement allowed businesses to reopen and subways, taxis, commuter trains and buses to roll. They had been closed down throughout the day, turning Boston into a ghost city on a day when streets are normally choked with traffic and sidewalks with shoppers.

State Police Col. Timothy Alben told a news conference shortly before the suspect's capture that a door-to-door search for him in a 20-block neighborhood of Watertown on the western edge of Boston had been fruitless.

The manhunt included an army of federal, state and local police officers, assisted by the tactical presence of SWAT teams, K-9 dogs, armored vehicles and helicopters.

Tamerian Tsarnaev, the older brother, died of multiple gunshot and shrapnel wounds in the earlier shootout. His brother eluded capture by fleeing the nighttime gunfight in a car, running over his brother's limp body on the ground in the process. Police said he later abandoned the car and fled on foot.

Alben said the brothers exchanged more than 200 rounds with the police during the shootout, and left seven explosive devices at the scene. The gunfight lit up the nighttime sky with sights and sounds of a war zone.

"We believe this to be a terrorist," said Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis. "We believe this to be a man here to kill people."

Officials said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a student at the University of Massachusetts in Darmouth 40 miles south of Boston and a native of the Chechen region of Russia who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in September of last year.

He and his older brother were identified Thursday afternoon in FBI video and photos as suspects in Monday's marathon blasts that killed three and injured 176. Both moved to the United States a decade ago with their parents.

The massive manhunt was launched by two hours of violent events, starting Thursday at 10 p.m. in Cambridge, across the Charles River from Boston. Police responding to a 7-11 convenience store robbery in Kendall Square discovered an MIT campus police officer shot to death in his cruiser. A short time later, a Mercedes SUV carjacking nearby resulted in police pursuit and a shoot-out with the marathon bombing suspects in Watertown on the western edge of Boston.

Officials said the suspects threw grenade-like bombs and fired guns at police during and after the chase. A transit policeman helping with the pursuit was seriously wounded. Officers shot Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers, when he rushed toward them firing a gun. He was later found to have a small bomb strapped to his body. Emergency room doctors said he died from bullet and shrapnel wounds.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, described by the FBI as the "white cap" suspect in video and photo images from the marathon bombings scene, fled the shoot-out by speeding the carjacked SUV through police. Officials said he later switched to another car and then fled on foot.

The driver of the SUV said he was held hostage by the suspects for a half-hour. He said they told him they were the marathon bombers and that they had killed a police officer that very night. He was let go unharmed at a gas station after they had withdrawn $800 from an ATM with his bank card.

Authorities identified the MIT police officer killed Thursday night as Sean Collier, 26, of Somerville, Mass. The MBTA Transit Police Officer shot during the gunfight with the suspects is Richard H. Donahue Jr., 33, of Boston. He is in serious condition.

The suspects went from being unknown for four days after the marathon bombings to the details of their lives being broadcast around the world on Friday.

Officials said the family once lived in the predominantly Muslin region of Russia before coming to the United States in 2002 as refugees from the violence in Chechnya between residents there seeking independence from Russia. The parents later returned to Russia but the brothers and a sister stayed in the U.S.

The dead older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was reportedly married and the father of a 3-year-old daughter. He wasa a part-time student for three semesters at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston from 2006 to 2008, and was known for his boxing and martial arts skills. An acquaintance said he competed in Golden Gloves competition and talked about qualifying for the Olympics. The Boston Globe said he also commented in a photo essay posted to a social network that he "loved the USA"  but also remarked,  "I don't have a single American friend. I don't understand them." His profile said he quit smoking and drinking because of his Muslim faith.

The younger brother, Dzhokhar, was a star student at Cambridge Rindge & Latin High School, graduating in 2011. He was also a  high school wrestler, and became a naturalized U.S. citizen Sept. 11 of last year. Classmates who knew him in high school told the Boston Globe he was friendly but not close to anyone. Students who knew him at UMass-Dartmouth also said he tended to keep to himself and did not talk about his Russian background. His father, contacted by the Russian news agency Interfax, said he was a medical student. But UMass officials said he was studying marine biology.