Unprecedented manhunt for Boston bombing suspect ends in capture

The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is hospitalized and in serious condition after a manhunt ended with his capture late Friday in Watertown, Mass.

Tsarnaev has not yet been charged in connection with the bombings, according to multiple reports.

{mosads}”It’s a night where we are all going to rest easy,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) said at a Friday night news briefing. 

“We are exhausted folks, but we have a victory here tonight,” Massachusetts State Police Col. Timothy Alben said. 

After a long day of tension and uncertainty, Tsarnaev’s capture happened in a burst of action. It started shortly after an update on the investigation in which law enforcement announced that a daylong lockdown on Boston and the surrounding area had been lifted.

Just after that, gunshots sounded in Watertown, where officials suspected Tsarnaev had been hiding. A fleet of police cars sped to surround the suspect. What followed was a standoff as law enforcement officials eventually closed in on Tsarnaev, who was hiding in a boat behind a Watertown home. According to The Boston Globe, the boat’s owners noticed blood near straps securing a tarp on the boat and called police. 

Tsarnaev was shot in the neck and the leg, CBS News reports, adding that he “might not have lived” if not found. 

 Just before 9 p.m., Boston police tweeted that the suspect was custody.

“CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody,” the department wrote on Twitter.

“In our time of rejoicing,” the department added, “let us not forget the families of Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu, Krystle Campbell and Officer Sean Collier.” They referred to the three people killed in the marathon bombings and a police officer who authorities said was “assassinated” by the terror suspects late Thursday. 

U.S. officials told the Associated Press that a special interrogation team would question Tsarnaev without reading him his Miranda rights under the so-called public safety exception.

President Obama, speaking to reporters at the White House, said his administration would continue to deploy all resources to investigate the bombings and determine why “young men who grew up here and studied here” would resort to terror. 

“There are still many unanswered questions,” Obama said. “We will determine what happened. We will determine whatever associations … these terrorists had.”

He added, “Whatever they thought they would ultimately achieve, they have already failed.”

Celebrations swept across area streets as news of Tsarnaev’s capture spread, with crowds chanting “USA, USA,” and waving American flags.

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said the break in the case came when law enforcement officials received a tip from a Watertown man who saw blood leading to a boat in his backyard. He pulled back the tarp on the boat and saw a man covered in blood.

“We exchanged gunfire with the suspect who was inside the boat,” Davis said. The suspect is wounded and in serious condition, Davis said. 

Residents of Watertown stood cheering on sidewalks as police and emergency personnel began to clear the suburb on Friday night. 

“This was truly an absolutely intense investigation,” said Rick DesLauriers, the FBI special agent in charge of the investigation. 

“As a result, justice being served for the victims of these terrible crimes.”

FBI Director Robert Mueller praised the collaboration between law enforcement, intelligence and public safety agencies.

“These collaborative efforts, with the help and cooperation of the public, resulted in the successful outcome we have seen tonight,” Mueller said in a statement Friday night. “The investigation will continue as part of our efforts to seek answers and justice, and there will be no pause in that effort.”

Only hours earlier, the trail seemed to have gone cold. Police said they believed Tsarnaev, 19, was in the Boston area, given his ties to the city. But they said their door-to-door search in Watertown had been fruitless.

“I don’t have any direct knowledge of that he’s here in the Boston area, but we don’t think he’d get much further,” Alben said at an update of the search early Friday evening in Watertown. “His ties seem to be here.” 

At a late-afternoon news briefing, Patrick had said the investigation was back to where it was just after the bombing.

{mosads}”We are where we were, effectively, as of Monday night or Tuesday morning with a couple of exceptions,” he said. “One of the suspects is dead.”

The lockdown was lifted late Friday afternoon, police said, because they could not justify asking the entire metropolitan area to remain indoors as they pursue leads in capturing the suspect. 

“In terms of where he is at this point, we cannot continue to lock down an entire city or entire state,” Alben said. 

The lockdown had been announced Friday morning after a bloody shootout with police that ranged from the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., to the streets of nearby Watertown.

Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, was fatally injured in the shootout. The two brothers are suspected of being behind the bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 170 on Monday.

Law enforcement deployed armored vehicles into Watertown, where the search was concentrated, and Blackhawk helicopters hovered overhead as police conducted door-to-door searches for the terror suspect. Authorities on Friday evening said an increased police presence would remain in that city.

Patrick pointed to the shootout early Friday between police and the two brothers in defending the decision to lock down the city.

“There was a firefight out here, some 200 rounds and explosives, so we were very justified, I believe, based on what we understood of the investigation, in taking what we knew was a big step in asking people to stay indoors while we went house to house here and in other communities close by to which we believed the suspect or law enforcement believed the suspect could have fled,” he said.

The dramatic search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev played out like a scene from a Hollywood movie, with SWAT teams converging on homes with weapons drawn.

An uncle of the fugitive suspect appealed on television for his nephew to turn himself in and beg forgiveness from the victims of the attack.

“We believe this to be a terrorist. We believe this to be a man who’s come here to kill people. We need to get him in custody,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told reporters.

The impacts of the manhunt reverberated across the region.

Several major universities — including Harvard, Boston University and MIT — were closed, as were public schools. Police instructed businesses not to open. The Boston transit system was shut down and Amtrak suspended service from Boston to Providence, R.I.

An evening game at Fenway Park between the Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals was canceled, the team announced, to “support” police efforts.

President Obama was briefed throughout the day Friday by his counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco. Late Friday afternoon, he called Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, telling them the full force of the federal government would be available to bring those responsible for the bombing to justice. 

As the day progressed, profiles of the two alleged bombers — who had lived relatively quiet lives in the U.S. for several years — began to emerge.

NBC News, citing documents, reported the fugitive Dzhokhar Tsarnaev became a naturalized American citizen on Sept. 11, 2012.

He was reportedly a high school wrestler who had received a scholarship from the city of Cambridge. He was enrolled as the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

According to Reuters, a man under Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s name paid tribute to Islamic websites and Chechen independence on a Russian language social networking site.

He is suspected for leaving the second bomb along the marathon route.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev competed as a Golden Gloves boxer who — according to a Boston University magazine profile — wanted to fight in the Olympics so he could gain his U.S. citizenship. He had been an accounting student at Bunker Hill Community College.

U.S. government officials told The Associated Press that Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited Russia last year and stayed for about six months.

The suspects’ uncle, Maryland resident Ruslan Tsarni, told reporters they immigrated to the U.S. around 2003 from Kyrgyzstan. There were reports they had also lived in the Russian state of Dagestan.

“If you are alive, turn yourself in, and ask for forgiveness from the victims, from the injured,” Tsarni said of Dzhokhar, adding that his nephew “put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity.”

Dzhokhar’s father told the AP that his son is a second-year medical student.

“My son is a true angel,” Anzor Tsarnaev said from Makhachkala, Russia. “We expected him to come on holidays here.”

The two brothers were first identified, though not by name, as the primary suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings on Thursday afternoon.

The FBI released photos and video showing two men, wearing backpacks and ball caps, who they believed left a pair of bombs near the finish line of the iconic sporting event.

Within hours, the two suspects were on the run — reportedly killing one MIT police officer and wounding another in a violent run from authorities that culminated in an explosion of gunfire on the streets of Watertown.

The violent standoff began at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday after reports of a robbery at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Cambridge, The New York Times reported. The first shots were fired shortly after as police investigated.

The slain MIT officer was identified as Sean Collier, 26.

The two suspects then fled to Watertown in a stolen vehicle — reportedly a black Mercedes SUV — where a second gun battle with police occurred after a chase.

Police said the suspects threw explosives from the vehicle before one of them was gravely injured. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whom the FBI identified publicly in photos earlier Thursday wearing a black baseball cap, died later in a hospital.

“During the course of that pursuit, several explosive devices were discharged from the car at the police officers,” Alben, of the Massachusetts State Police, told reporters.

Some outlets have reported that Tamerlan Tsarnaev might have had an explosive device strapped to him at the time of his final showdown with police.

In an interview on CNN, Richard Wolfe of Beth Israel Medical Center, the doctor who treated the suspect, said injuries suggested Tamerlan Tsarnaev sustained a “blast injury” that appeared to be from an explosive device that could have contained shrapnel.

“I think the medical examiner will conclusively be able to say that, but there were more than just gunshot wounds,” Wolfe said.

In an early afternoon press conference Friday, Alben said there has been “no apprehension at this point,” but that the department is following up on “several new leads.”

Alben said police had covered 60 to 70 percent of the Watertown territory in which they were conducting door-to-door searches, and that a bomb squad planned a controlled explosion at a house in Cambridge it secured earlier in the day “out of an abundance of caution.”

At Thursday’s FBI news conference, agents said they had video of one of the men leaving his backpack near the site of one of the explosions.

Some of the images showed the two men walking together, which captured the attention of investigators.

Authorities had previously said that the explosive devices in the bombings had been made of pressure cookers loaded with BB pellets, shards of metal and ball bearings. Law enforcement officials said the explosives were carried in dark nylon bags.

The suspects’ motivation for the bombings remains unclear.

Chechnya, a Muslim enclave in the Caucasus, saw a rise in Islamist militancy when separatists fought for independence from Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union; two Chechen militants detonated bombs packed with metal nuts, bolts and screws in the Moscow subway in 2010, killing at least 40 people.

But the suspects’ uncle said his nephews had no ties to Chechnya.

“They’ve never been in Chechnya. This has nothing to do with Chechnya,” Tsarni said, who added that the men were “losers” if they committed the bombings.

“Anything else, anything else to do with religion, with Islam — it’s a fraud, it’s a fake,” he said.

—This story was originally published Friday at 5:03 p.m.


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