Police on Friday night captured a 19-year-old college student sought in the Boston Marathon bombings, bringing a dramatic end to a weeklong terrorist spree that killed three spectators, wounded more than 180 civilians and left one police officer and the suspect’s elder brother and accomplice dead.
“CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody,” Boston police crowded in a tweet Friday night after a wounded Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was coaxed into custody by a police negoatiator after he was surrounded in a covered boat in the backyard of a suburban home in Watertown, Mass.
The nationally televised capture ended a tense week that paralyzed Boston and its surrounding suburbs, an anti-climatic finish to a drama that began five days ago when spectators were killed and maimed by two pressure-cooker bombs at the finish line of Boston’s historic Patriot’s Day marathon.
The attacks ushered in a new era of terrorism in America, in which the FBI and police conducted the most technologically sophisticated manhunt in hstory to idetify and track down two school-aged suspects from Russia’s separatist Chechyan region who used improvised explosive devices to wreak mayhem.
Tsarnaev’s brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan, was killed Friday in a spectacular firefight has he and his younger brother trued to elude police.
Authorities wanted to bring the younger suspect in alive, giving them a chance to interrogate the accused terrorist about the tandem’s motives, their explosives trainings and possible accomplices and influences both in the United States and in the Islamist separatists regions of Chechnya.
The Associated Press provided a detailed account of the scene in Watertown when the young man was captured.
“Everyone wants him alive,” said Kathleen Paolillo, a 27-year-old teacher who lives in Watertown.
Boston Mayor Tom Menino tweeted “We got him,” along with a photo of the police commissioner speaking to him.
During a long night of violence Thursday into Friday, the brothers killed an MIT police officer, severely wounded another lawman and hurled explosives at police in a car chase and gun battle, authorities said.
The suspects were identified by law enforcement officials and family members as Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, ethnic Chechen brothers who had lived in Dagestan, which neighbors Chechnya in southern Russia. They had been in the U.S. for about a decade, an uncle said, and were believed to be living in Cambridge, Mass.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a 26-year-old who had been known to the FBI as Suspect No. 1 and was seen in surveillance footage of the marathon in a black baseball cap, was killed overnight, officials said. His younger brother, who had been dubbed Suspect No. 2 and was seen wearing a white, backward baseball cap in the images from Monday’s deadly bombing — escaped and was on the run.
Their uncle in Maryland, Ruslan Tsarni, pleaded on live television: “Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness.”
Authorities in Boston suspended all mass transit and warned close to 1 million people in the entire city and some of its suburbs to stay indoors as the hunt for Suspect No. 2 went on. Businesses were asked not to open. People waiting at bus and subway stops were told to go home. The Red Sox and Bruins postponed their games.
From Watertown to Cambridge, police SWAT teams, sharpshooters and FBI agents surrounded various buildings as police helicopters buzzed overhead and armored vehicles rumbled through the streets. Authorities also searched trains.
“We believe this man to be a terrorist,” said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. “We believe this to be a man who’s come here to kill people.”
The bombings on Monday killed three people and wounded more than 180 others, tearing off limbs in a spray of shrapnel and instantly raising the specter of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Chechnya was the scene of two wars between Russian forces and separatists since 1994, in which tens of thousands were killed in heavy Russian bombing. That spawned an Islamic insurgency that has carried out deadly bombings in Russia and the region, although not in the West.
Investigators in the Boston case have shed no light on the motive for the bombing and have said it is unclear whether it was the work of domestic or international terrorists or someone else entirely with an unknown agenda.
The endgame — at least for Suspect No. 1 — came just hours after the FBI released photos and video of the two young men at the marathon’s finish line and appealed to the public for help in identifying and capturing them.
State Police spokesman Dave Procopio said police realized they were dealing with the bombing suspects based on what the two men told a carjacking victim during their getaway attempt overnight.