GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

April 20, 2013

'WE GOT HIM'

Marathon terror suspect corralled in Watertown

From Wire and Staff Reports
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — WATERTOWN — The 19-year-old college student on the run for nearly 24 hours after being pegged as a suspect in the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings was taken into custody by Boston police Friday night, capping an exhaustive manhunt that left the city virtually shut down and his older brother and accomplice dead.

Police confirmed just before 9 p.m. Friday that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was in custody. His brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan, was killed Friday in a furious firefight during the brothers’ wild and violent attempt to escape police.

“We got him,” read the Twitter announcement from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

“CAPTURED — The hunt is over,” read a similar pronouncement from Boston Police.

Dzhokhar had been holed up in a shrink-wrapped boat behind a house a Watertown neighborhood for several hours when police and SWAT teams moved in.

Once taken into custody, he was taken to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, reportedly covered in blood but alive and conscious. He was ultimately transferred to Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, where this morning he was reportedly in “serious” condition — and under heavy armed guard.

The brothers, who were born in the volatile and separatist state of Chechnya, bthen moved with their parents to Russia, near the Chechen border, before coming to the U.S., had lived in Cambridge for a number of years. And they had been confirmed early Friday as the two suspects in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings, which killed three people and wounded more than 180 others. The men are also suspected of killing a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer in his vehicle late Thursday, and wounding an MBTA officer during the chase that landed them in the early Friday morning battle with guns and explosives.

The climactic scene in Watertown played out Friday night after an exhaustive manhunt that essentially paralyzed Boston and its inner suburbs throughout the day, where police told residents to “shelter in place,” or essentially stay in their homes while authorities combed Watertown and other sites for the suspect, in some cases going door to door.

The virtual lockdown’s impact stretched to Gloucester and Cape Ann through the state’s total shutdown of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for most of the day, and when the MBTA was reactivated at around 6 p.m., the agency’s commuter rail service remained shut down.

The Gloucester Post Office, while open for retail business also suspended mail deliveries in the morning as per orders of officials in Boston, though the deliveries resumed later in the day.

All of those actions and precautions, in turn, followed the deadly and chaotic night of police chases and the full-fledged firefight on the streets of Watertown.

The overnight saga began near the campus of MIT, where a university police officer — 26-year-old Sean Collier, a graduate of Salem State University — was shot to death while responding to a report of a disturbance.

From there, authorities said, the two men carjacked a man in a Mercedes-Benz, keeping him with them in the car for half an hour before releasing him at a gas station along Memorial Drive in Cambridge. That man was released uninjured.

Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio said police figured out that the carjackers were the marathon bombing suspects in part because of what they said to the carjacking victim. Procopio did not elaborate.

The search for the vehicle led to a chase that ended in Watertown, where authorities said the suspects threw explosive devices from the car and exchanged gunfire with police. A transit police officer was severely wounded during those exchanges, authorities said.

Doctors at Beth Israel Hospital where Tamerlan Tsarnaev died said they treated a man with both a possible blast injury and multiple gunshot wounds — leading authorities to believe that both suspects likely had some type of explosives attached to their bodies.

From Watertown to Cambridge, police SWAT teams, sharpshooters and FBI agents with armored vehicles surrounded various buildings as police helicopters buzzed overhead.

“We believe this man to be a terrorist,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis had said earlier Friday. “We believe this to be a man who’s come here to kill people.”

Many families were evacuated – especially when police and SWAT teams zeroed in on the boat where the suspect ultimately holed himself up last night.

In Cambridge, Bryce Acosta, 24, came out of his home with his hands up.

“I had like 30 FBI guys come storm my house with assault rifles,” he said. They yelled, “Is anybody in there?” and began searching his house and an adjacent shed, leaving after about 10 minutes.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev had studied accounting as a part-time student at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston for three semesters from 2006 to 2008, the school said.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was registered as a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, the school said, and students said they had seen Tsarnaev working out in the school’s gymnasium the night after the Marathon bombings.

The campus closed down along with other colleges around the Boston area.

Watertown resident Kayla Dipaolo, 25, was waiting for a bus that was to evacuate her and others from their neighborhood.

She said she was woken up overnight by gunfire and a large explosion that sounded “like it was right next to my head ... and shook the whole house.”

Christine Yajko said she heard two loud explosions and gunfire. She said a police officer later knocked on her door and told her there was an undetonated improvised explosive device in the street and warned her to stay away from the windows.

“It was on the street, right near our kitchen window,” she said.

In the past, insurgents from Chechnya and neighboring restive provinces in the Caucasus have been involved in terror attacks in Moscow and other places in Russia.

Those raids included one in Moscow in 2002 in which a group of Chechen militants took 800 people hostage and held them for two days before special forces stormed the building, killing all 41 captors. Also killed were 129 hostages, mostly from the effects of the gas Russian forces used to subdue the attackers.

Chechen insurgents also launched a 2004 hostage-taking raid in the southern Russian town of Beslan, where they took hundreds of hostages. The siege ended in a bloodbath two days later, with more than 330 people, about half of them children, killed.

Insurgents from Chechnya and other regions also have launched a long series of bombings in Moscow and other cities in Russia.