Just before 9 p.m. EST, the long ordeal suffered by the city of Boston and a grieving nation came to an end when 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, was captured alive by police. He was taken from the scene by ambulance after hiding for hours in a community resident’s boat located in a private backyard. Reportedly wounded in last night’s exchange of gunfire with police, Tsarnaev’s condition was described as “serious,” but not life-threatening. He is now in custody.
A huge break in the case came when a Watertown man called police to tell them that his boat, kept covered with a tarp in his back yard, which had been swept by authorities earlier, had a door open on it and blood was visible. Several witnesses reported that when police arrived, multiple gunshots were heard and several explosions were reported. A robot was sent in to see if there were any explosives on the boat. Police could be heard negotiating with Tsarnaev for several minutes, according to the Boston Globe. After his capture, law enforcement officials leaving the scene were cheered as they streamed past crowds of onlookers.
The capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ended a hellish day in Boston and the surrounding suburbs. They had remained in lock-down as police and federal agents continued searching for the second of two Chechen brothers suspected of perpetrating the Boston Marathon bombing. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed last night with a bomb strapped to his chest, after he and his brother killed MIT police officer Sean Collier, 26. They then car-jacked an SUV, and got in a shootout with police during a violence-wracked escape attempt. Another policeman, MBTA officer Richard Donohue, 33, was seriously wounded in that battle.
After Collier was killed, the brothers hijacked a Mercedes SUV, and forced the driver to stop at several bank machines, before getting $800 at one of them. It is unclear how the driver of the car got away. “The guy was very lucky that they let him go,” Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio said.
After leading police on a chase, a shootout took place in Watertown, near Cambridge, MA. Sometime during that shootout, Tamerlan was tackled by police on the street. Dzhokhar drove a car at the group, attempting to save his brother. When police jumped out of the way, Tamerlan was dragged under the car. Dzhokhar subsequently fled and remained at large.
Tamerlan was brought to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center emergency room about 1:10 a.m. with multiple traumatic injuries and 25 minutes later was pronounced dead. “It was more than gunshot wounds,” Dr. Richard Wolfe told reporters about 5:30 a.m. today. “It was a combination of injuries. We believe a combination of blasts, multiple gunshot wounds.” Officials confirmed he had an IED strapped to his chest.
Officials were worried that Dzhokhar was wearing a similar vest.
Watertown and the surrounding area went into heavy lock-down mode and the manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev went into overdrive. Residents of Watertown, Waltham, Newton, Belmont, Cambridge, and Allston-Brighton were asked by authorities to stay home, and businesses in those cities and towns were asked to remain closed. People in East Watertown were warned to stay in their homes and not to answer the door unless a police officer was present. Officials also warned drivers to avoid stopping in the area roughly bounded by Dexter, Laurel, and Arsenal streets. They also shut down a 4-mile stretch of streets between Cambridge and Watertown, due to the possible presence of explosive devices. One device was found at 6 a.m. and detonated by police. Additional pipe bombs and a pressure cooker were found by police later in the day at the brothers’ residence.
During the day, approximately 9,000 officers from local and state police, the FBI, the DHS and other law-enforcement agencies conducted door-to-door searches in Watertown in a cordoned-off area spanning some 20 blocks. “I just want to speak to the community of Watertown. We need your help now. We are asking everyone to shelter into your place,” Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau said earlier in the day. “The Watertown community has always stood strong. We need them to do that today.”
According to authorities and news reports, Dzhokhar came to America in 2002 on a tourist visa, obtained permanent resident status in 2007, and became a citizen — ominously enough — on September 11, 2012. He graduated in 2011 from public school Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, and was awarded a $2,500 scholarship from the city of Cambridge, MA to pursue higher education. Dzhokhar applied to the University of Massachusetts in 2011. But after being accepted, he withdrew immediately. “He was not a student,” said spokesman DeWayne Lehman. Deana Beaulieu, 20, who attended schools with Dzhokhar since the seventh grade, described him as a quiet young man who was on the school wrestling team.
Tamerlan was admitted as a refugee in 2003, and later became a permanent resident. He became a student at Bunker Hill Community College and was a Golden Gloves boxer who trained at Wai Kru mixed martial arts gym in Boston. He competed in a national Golden Gloves competition in Salt Lake City. Johannes Kirn, a photographer, compiled a photo essay of Tamerlan, quoting the young boxer as saying that he is a ”very religious” Muslim, who cares deeply about the independence of Chechnya from Russia. According to the website spotcrime.com, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge in July 2009, for assaulting his girlfriend. Officials further noted that Tamerlan traveled to Russia sometime last year and returned to the U.S. six months later.
The brothers’ uncle, Ruslan Tsarnaev, gave a chilling description of the young men. When asked by reporters to explain why they did what the did, he minced no words. “Being losers, not being able to settle themselves, and thereby just hating everyone who did.” Addressing Dzhokhar directly, Tsarnaev begged him to turn himself in and “ask for forgiveness from the victims, from the injured.” He also defended the brothers’ father. “Somebody radicalized them, but it was not my brother,” he added.
At some point, these men became Islamic jihadists. Buzzfeed.com has found a YouTube page that reportedly belonged to Tamerlan containing videos of Islam, and a playlist called “terrorists.” He had also viewed a video titled “I Dedicate My Life to Jihad.” Both brothers also were apparently influenced by the online Inspire magazine, an English-language publication that heavily promotes ideological tracts and bomb-making techniques to Western extremists. ”It’s like London, it’s like Madrid in the radicalization,” a counterterror official said. “These guys were produced by the international jihadist machine. The biggest thing is they were individuals willing to die. They were committed. There was interest in events overseas affecting Muslims. And a lot of Internet activity — the things that everyone in the counterterror community worries about.”
Chechnya has been the scene of an Islamist separatist movement for the last several decades. An Islamic insurgency remains in the country and is determined to establish an autonomous Islamic state within the Caucasus. Russian troops withdrew from the area in 1996, but returned in 1999 following a series of terror attacks in Moscow. Those attacks escalated: an attack on Moscow’s theater in 2002 cost 129 hostages their lives, and another hostage-taking atrocity in 2004 at a school in Beslan killed more than 330 people. The area was ostensibly stabilized by Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel backed by Moscow, who has used an iron fist to maintain order. Yet the insurgency has spread to neighboring provinces. Dagestan, an area between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, has become the epicenter of violence, with terrorists perpetrating daily attacks against police and other officials.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev attended School No. 1 in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan.
Anzor Tsarnaev, father of the two men, spoke with the AP by telephone from the Russian city of Makhachkala on Friday. ”My son is a true angel,” he said. “Dzhokhar is a second-year medical student in the U.S. He is such an intelligent boy. We expected him to come on holidays here.” In a later interview with ABC, he said his sons were innocent, further insisting a conspiracy was afoot. “Somebody clearly framed them. I don’t know who exactly framed them, but they did–they framed them and then they were so cowardly that they shot the boy dead,” he said. ”I’m scared for my boy that they will shoot him dead too somewhere.” Tsarnev also called for his son to turn himself in but warned authorities that if he were killed ”all hell will break loose.”
All hell already has broken loose, and the daunting reality Bostonians and the residents of the surrounding area must face is that it remains possible these men were not “lone wolves,” a term the Obama administration uses to diminish the scope of Islamic terror, which, despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, remains a serious threat.
Law enforcement officials are working on three theories as to why the brothers perpetrated their crime. Two involve only the brothers: they were either lone wolves intent on perpetrating violence in the name of Islam, or that they were simply disaffected youths looking to compensate for their own personal failures. The third possibility is the uncomfortable idea that they were agents of a larger group that has now proven its ability to operate domestically within the U.S.
That last theory may hold the most credence in light of a late report by Fox News. They reveal that an unidentified “foreign government” had expressed worries to the FBI that Tamerlan had been radicalized. The FBI reportedly questioned him in 2010, and he came up clean. Intelligence experts are now speculating that both brothers were trained to make bombs. Whatever the eventual outcome of this story, one thing is certain: the administration’s oft-stated contention that terror is “on the run” has just been disproved beyond a shadow of a doubt.
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