Gunshots were heard on the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Thursday, April 18, 2013, at Cambridge near Boston.
BOSTON — After hiding in their homes behind locked doors all day, residents of Watertown lined the street waving the stars and stripes Friday night after the arrest of a teenager who, along with his brother, is thought to be responsible for striking fear into the heart of Bean Town by killing four people and wounding 176 others this week.
At the same time, law enforcement officials held a press conference at the command centre they had set up in a parking lot on the edge of this small suburb west of the city and proudly revealed how the arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev unfolded, bringing a wild and deadly week to a close.
“Today the city of Boston, Cambridge and Watertown can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that two perpetrators are no longer a threat,” said Rick DesLauriers, FBI special agent in charge.
“This was truly an absolutely intense investigation -- and I do emphasize, an intense investigation,” he added. “No one agency alone accomplished this critically important task.”
Some 9,000 officers had searched since the wee hours were no doubt exhausted, frustrated as deflated as the day was winding down and they had so far come up empty.
They were about to call it quits around 6 p.m. when a keen Watertown resident noticed a rip in the tarp covering a boat in his backyard.
Police Comm. Ed Davis said the resident went out to his yard, lifted the tarp and saw a man “covered in blood.”
The resident “retreated” and called police.
Davis said police confirmed the report by locating the man’s heat signature in the boat from high above in a helicopter.
The 19-year-old managed to elude capture all day by being just outside the perimeter police had been searching, he explained.
Tactical officers swarmed the backyard, there was “an exchange of gunfire” and flash grenades were tossed at the boat.
Negotiators were brought in to try to convince the teen to surrender, but Davis said he was “not communicative,” so officers moved in.
Dzhokhar was taken in alive, unlike his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who was killed in a shootout with police early Friday.
“We have a suspect in custody,” Massachusetts state police superintendent Col. Timothy Alben said.
“We’re exhausted, folks, but we have a victory here tonight.”
Dzhokhar was rushed to hospital in serious condition. It was not immediately clear if he is expected to survive.
If he does, the teen could face the death penalty.
U.S. attorney Carmin Ortiz wouldn’t say if prosecutors would seek such a punishment .
“This is still an active investigation,” she said, adding all of the evidence must be reviewed before any such decision can be made.
Meanwhile, Bostonians were rejoicing in Copley Square.
And about an hour after the arrest, an emotional U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the country and commended the efforts of all involved for helping to close “an important chapter in this tragedy.”
“They all worked -- as they should -- as a team,” he said. “And we all are extremely appreciative for that.”
Obama said the nation owes them “a debt of gratitude.”
He said the next step is to find out why the Boston Marathon bombing attack happened, whether or not those behind it worked alone and, if not, who helped them.
“The families of those killed so senselessly deserve answers,” the President said, adding those who were wounded do as well.