BOSTON — The White House says the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing will not be tried as an enemy combatant in a military tribunal.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said today that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be prosecuted in the federal court system, a move that will, however, allow federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty if they so choose.
Tsarnaev is a naturalized U.S. citizen, and Carney says that under U.S. law U.S. citizens cannot be tried in military commissions. Carney said that, since Sept. 11, 2001, the federal court system has been used to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists.
The White House announcement came as cities and towns across the state — including Gloucester — paused AT 2:50 P.M. to mourn the dead and console the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing today. Those tributes were aimed at recognizing the victims of the bombings with a moment of silence and ringing of bells at the precise time of the first explosion near the finish line of last Monday’s Marathon.
The Gloucester ceremony included remarks by Mayor Carolyn Kirk on the steps of Gloucester’s City Hall, with a ringing of the bells in the hall’s tower. Among those in attendance was Gloucester Police patrolman and K9 officer Chris Genovese, who, with his dog Mako, was deployed to Watertown for the manhunt to track down Dshokhar Tsarnaev Friday night.The White House decision also came a day after Boston’s police commissioner said the two suspects had such a large cache of weapons that he believes they were probably planning other attacks.
The surviving suspect remains hospitalized at Beth Israel Deaconness Hospital, unable to speak with a gunshot wound to the throat, but responding in writing to interrogators.
Boston Police Commissioine Ed Davis said that, after the two brothers engaged in a gun battle with police early Friday, authorities found many unexploded homemade bombs at the scene, along with more than 250 rounds of ammunition.
Davis said the stockpile was “as dangerous as it gets in urban policing.”
“We have reason to believe, based upon the evidence that was found at that scene — the explosions, the explosive ordnance that was unexploded and the firepower that they had — that they were going to attack other individuals. That’s my belief at this point.” Davis said Sunday.
The suspects in the twin bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 180 are two ethnic Chechen brothers from southern Russia — 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan. Their motive remained unclear.
Tamerlan died in the streets of Watertown after a firefight there with SWAT teams and other police; Dzhokhar eluded police for some 17 hours before a resident tipped police that there appeared top be a man inside a wrapped boat he had stored behind his house. That’s were authorities captured Dzhokhar, capping an intense manhunt that played out throughout neighborhoods in Watertown and on TV screens acoss the region and the country Friday night.
In the final standoff with police, shots were fired from the boat, but investigators have not determined where the gunfire was aimed, Davis said.
The younger Tsarnaev was expected to be charged as early as today. The most serious charge available to federal prosecutors would be the use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill people, which carries a possible death sentence. Massachusetts does not have the death penalty.
Across the rattled streets of Boston on Sunday, churches opened their doors to remember the dead and ease the grief of the living.
At the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in South Boston, photographs of the three people killed in the attack and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer slain Thursday were displayed on the altar, each face illuminated by a glowing white pillar candle.
“I hope we can all heal and move forward,” said Kelly McKernan, who was crying as she left the service. “And obviously, the Mass today was a first step for us in that direction.”
A six-block segment of Boylston Street, where the bombs were detonated, remained closed yesterday. But city officials were mapping out a plan to reopen it.
Mayor Thomas Menino said that once the scene is released by the FBI, the city will follow a five-step process, including environmental testing and a safety assessment of buildings. The exact timetable was uncertain.
Boston’s historic Trinity Church could not host services yesterday because it was within the crime scene, but the congregation was invited to worship at the Temple Israel synagogue instead. The FBI allowed church officials a half-hour Saturday to go inside to gather the priests’ robes, the wine and bread for yesterday’s service.
Trinity’s Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III offered a prayer for those who were slain “and for those who must rebuild their lives without the legs that they ran and walked on last week.”
“So where is God when the terrorists do their work?” Lloyd asked. “God is there, holding us and sustaining us. God is in the pain the victims are suffering, and the healing that will go on. God is with us as we try still to build a just world, a world where there will not be terrorists doing their terrible damage.”
Near the crime scene, Dan and Keri Arone were pushing their 11-week-old daughter in a stroller when they stopped along Newbury Street, a block from the bombing site, to watch investigators in white jumpsuits scour the pavement. Wearing his bright blue marathon jacket, Dan Arone said he had crossed the finish line 40 minutes before the explosions.
The Waltham couple visited the area to leave behind pairs of their running shoes among the bouquets of flowers, hand-written signs and other gifts at a makeshift memorial on Boylston Street, near the police barriers.
“I thought maybe we’d somehow get some closure,” Dan Arone said of leaving behind the sneakers. “But I don’t feel any closure yet.”
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was tracing the suspects’ weapons to try to determine how they were obtained.
Neither of the brothers had permission to carry a gun. Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas said it was unclear whether either of them ever applied for a gun permit, and the applications are not considered public records.
But the younger brother would have been denied a permit based on his age alone. Only people 21 or older are allowed gun licenses in Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, surgeons at a Cambridge hospital said the Boston transit police officer wounded in a shootout with the suspects had lost nearly all his blood, and his heart had stopped from a single gunshot wound that severed three major blood vessels in his right thigh.
Richard Donohue, 33, was in critical but stable condition. He is sedated and on a breathing machine but opened his eyes, moved his hands and feet and squeezed his wife’s hand yesterday.
Gov. Deval Patrick called for all Massachusetts residents to observe a moment of silence today at the time the first of two bombs exploded, and Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk was set to preside over the brief memorial ceremony here on the steps of Gloucester City Hall.
We will update this story here at gloucestertimes.com as more news develops throughout the day. For full coverage, look to tomorrow’s print and online editions of the Gloucester Daily Times and gloucestertimes.com.