Police captured the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing hiding in a boat behind a house in Watertown, Massachusetts, after an almost 24-hour manhunt that shut down Boston and surrounding cities.
Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, was taken yesterday to a hospital for treatment of serious wounds suffered in a gunfight with police the night before, authorities said. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, the other suspect, was killed in that fight.
“The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over,” the Boston Police Department wrote in a Twitter message. “And justice has won. Suspect in custody.”
The brothers are accused of an attack that transformed America’s most storied road-race into a tableau of mayhem and confusion, planting two bombs that exploded about 10 seconds apart near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15.
In Boston, where thousands had gathered to cheer the annual marathon at the start of the week, crowds gathered at the intersection of Boylston Street and Brookline Avenue last night cheering for police officers and chanting “USA.”
At the Obama administration’s direction, police weren’t reading Tsarnaev the Miranda warning that gives suspects a chance to consult a lawyer before answering questions, according to a Justice Department official. The administration invoked a public-safety exception that lets law enforcement conduct limited questioning and allows the introduction of statements from those interviews into evidence, said the official, who asked not to be identified because the move wasn’t announced.
“We’ve closed an important chapter in this tragedy,” said President Barack Obama, who followed media reports of the suspect’s arrest and then went to the Oval Office to take a call from Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller.
The remaining question is why young men raised in the U.S. carried out this bombing, Obama said in an appearance in the White House press briefing room. “We will determine what happened,” he said. “The wounded -- some of whom now have to learn how to stand, walk and live again -- deserve answers.”
Authorities believe the two bombing suspects were acting alone and haven’t found connections to any groups or other suspects, said a person briefed on the investigation who asked not to be identified discussing a continuing probe.
Federal charges will be filed against Tsarnaev “in the coming days,” said Christina Sterling, a spokeswoman for Boston U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz.
Hiding in Boat
The police chase came to an end yesterday when Dzhokar Tsarnaev was found hiding in a boat stowed in the back yard of a Watertown home. The boat’s owner lifted up the tarp and “saw a man covered in blood,” then immediately called police, said Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis.
Police and Tsarnaev exchanged gunfire at one point and a hostage negotiation team was called in, though the suspect “wasn’t communicative,” Davis said.
During the standoff, officials operated with caution out of concern that the suspect was wearing an explosive vest or had an improvised explosive device with him, said a federal official, asking not to be identified commenting on a continuing investigation.
Police sent at least one helicopter that used a thermal camera to confirm he was moving underneath the tarp, Davis said.
The suspect had been seriously injured in the shootout the previous night, said David Procopio, a Massachusetts State Police spokesman. After his capture, Tsarnaev was being treated at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, according to Kelly Lawman, a hospital spokeswoman.
Dzhokar Tsarnaev escaped after the overnight gun battle with police in the Boston suburb of Watertown the night before in which 200 rounds of ammunition were fired and the suspects hurled explosive devices at police, according to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
During confrontations with the brothers that erupted after 10:30 p.m. on April 18, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer was killed and a transit police officer seriously wounded, authorities said. In the first showdown with police in Watertown, the younger Tsarnaev ran over his older sibling, according to one official.
The dead brother had explosives strapped to his body when killed, according to two federal law enforcement officials. That increased concerns about the type of weaponry the younger Tsarnaev might be carrying, one official said.
George Pizzuto told Bloomberg Television that about 6 p.m. yesterday, his neighbor on Franklin Street noticed something amiss with his covered boat. As the neighbor started to open the cover, he noticed blood and thought he saw a body lying on the deck, Pizzuto said, and he called police immediately.
As police converged on the home in Watertown, Irene Santoro, who lives along the L-shaped street, described a massive police response after hearing gunshots.
“I’m seeing what seems like 100 police cars all lined up on the street, tons of men in gears, with rifles,” Santoro said, her voice shaking. She added that some of her neighbors had been ordered to evacuate. “They’re all converging on the corner house. It’s so scary.”
Pizzuto said police had been in the neighborhood earlier doing door-to-door searches. When they arrived last night, some dressed in full bomb and riot gear, they evacuated a number of Franklin Street homes, including the one where his neighbor with the boat lives, Pizzuto said.
The raid followed an around-the-clock search for the 19-year-old immigrant from Kyrgyzstan implicated by police with his older brother in the bombing of the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured more than 170.
Black Hawk helicopters buzzed over Watertown and armored vehicles cruised through the area for much of the day. SWAT teams in helmets and flak jackets carried assault rifles as they moved building by building, aided by bomb-sniffing dogs.
As evening approached yesterday, authorities lifted a stay-home request for residents in Boston and adjoining communities and resumed public transportation service that had been suspended all day. That order was quickly reinstated in Watertown as police closed in on the younger Tsarnaev.
Within hours of his capture, the mood in the city turned jubilant as neighbors went into the street hugging each other and cheering as police and emergency vehicles drove by.
“I’m glad they got him,” said Karen Schwartz, who lives a few blocks from where Tsarnaev was found. “They may not be the only ones who planted the bombs, but at least they got these guys.”
Authorities have begun exploring the backgrounds of the suspects, who, according to an uncle in Maryland, immigrated to the U.S. in 2003.
Dzhokar Tsarnaev was born in Kyrgyzstan, and brother Tamerlan was born in Russia, according to two U.S. law enforcement officials who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter.
The younger brother became a naturalized U.S. citizen on Sept. 11, 2012, according to an official briefed on the matter who asked not to be identified because the probe is in progress.
The older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was arrested in 2009 on an assault and battery charge and wasn’t convicted, according to Stephanie Guyotte, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex County, Massachusetts, district attorney. Additional details weren’t available because the courthouse was closed, she said. Tsarnaev couldn’t have been deported without a conviction, according to a Homeland Security Department official who asked not to be identified in discussing a continuing investigation.
Investigators are examining the travel records of both men as they try to uncover any overseas military training the pair may have received, one official said.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a legal resident of the U.S., flew out of the country on a flight bound for Russia in January 2012 and may not have returned until July, said two law enforcement officials briefed on his travel.
U.S. intelligence agencies reviewing international communications and other terrorism intelligence found no signs that the suspected bombers were members of or inspired by any foreign terror group, said a U.S. official who asked not to be identified because those matters are classified.
Two years ago, the FBI interviewed the older brother at the request of an unnamed foreign government “based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam” and preparing to join underground groups in that country, according to an agency statement. The interview and reviews of U.S. databases turned up no evidence of terror activity, the FBI said.
A profile attributed to Dzhokar Tsarnaev on the Russian social networking site V kontakte lists “career and money” as his personal priority and Islam as his world view.
A video posted April 9 on his page called “For those who have a heart” is about the Syrian civil war.
“They’re killing your brothers and sisters without any reason, just because they say ‘our god is Allah’ and ‘Mohammed is our prophet,” it says, asking people to help the Syrians.
The Tsarnaev brothers and their two sisters moved to the Dagestan region of Russia in October 2001 from the central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan as refugees, and left for the U.S in March 2002, said Emirmagomed Davudov, director of Gimnasium Number 1 in Dagestan, where Tamerlan went to the seventh grade and Dzhokhar to first grade.
The parents first received asylum and then filed for the children, who were given “derivative asylum status” and didn’t come through the refugee admissions program, though the legal standard is essentially the same, said a State Department official who asked not to be identified to discuss the case.
Ruslan Tsarni, their uncle in Gaithersburg, said his brother’s children arrived in Cambridge when they immigrated in 2003. Asked for a possible motive for the attacks, Tsarni called them “losers not being able to settle themselves and thereby just hating everybody who did.”
The violence that erupted on April 18 began with a convenience store robbery, then escalated to the fatal shooting of MIT campus police officer Sean Collier and the carjacking of a Mercedes SUV.
Massachusetts State Police Colonel Timothy Alben said authorities believe the brothers didn’t rob the store, though they were seen on surveillance cameras there at about the time of the robbery. “They were not involved in an armed robbery of that convenience store,” Alben said.
When police confronted the suspects, a gun battle ensued during which the transit police officer was shot, according to Procopio, the Massachusetts State Police spokesman. During the shootout, the older brother stepped out of the vehicle. At some point, the younger brother hit the gas and ended up running over his brother, a law enforcement official said.
Andrew Kitzenberg, a Watertown resident, said he witnessed from his bedroom window a confrontation between two men in a black SUV and police.
“There were two shooters with handguns,” Kitzenberg told MSNBC. They also had “what seemed to be grenades” and “what looked to be a pressure cooker bomb,” referring to the type of explosive device that the marathon attackers are thought to have used.