Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been taken into police custody, ending a widespread manhunt that saw much of Boston and surrounding communities in lockdown Friday.
The arrest came following a tense two hours in Watertown that included reports of gunshots and heavy police activity in the Boston suburb.
“Suspect in custody. Officers sweeping the area. Stand by for further info,” the Boston police department tweeted at roughly 8:45 p.m. ET amid multiple media reports that 19-year-old Tsarnaev had been found.
“CAPTURED!!!” The police department added a short time later. “The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won.”
“We got him,” tweeted Boston Mayor Tom Menino.
Media in Watertown reported scenes of celebration: “Police officer just walked to end of Franklin, clasped hands with another officer, and clapped a few times. Crowd broke out into cheers,” tweeted Guardian US reporter Adam Gabbatt soon after the news broke.
The sudden increase in police activity in Watertown started at roughly 7 p.m. ET. Reports indicated that activity centred around a boat parked at a residence, and an individual believed to be inside it.
Roughly an hour prior, a day-long lockdown had been lifted for residents of Boston and its suburbs, with residents asked to remain vigilant amid the search for bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. “We do not have an apprehension of our suspect this afternoon, but we will have one,” said Massachusetts State Police Col. Timothy Alben at a 6 p.m. news conference.
Alben said over the course of the day, officers searched 20 streets in the Boston-area community of Watertown, including door-to-door searches, and followed up on a number of leads. “None of those leads have been fruitful to this point,” he said. Alben said much work remains to be done in the coming days, including ballistics and forensics analysis underway in Boston.
Alben said the suspect was believed to still be in Massachusetts, adding he was the only person officials are looking for at this time. “He’s a very violent and dangerous person. That’s our primary concern,” he said.
The city of Boston and its surrounding suburbs were under a “shelter in place” order for much of the day Friday, with residents ordered to remain indoors with doors locked as police and FBI searched for Tsarnaev, 19. That lockdown was lifted as of 6 p.m.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said authorities felt confident lifting the lockdown based on the status of the investigation, but did not provide details. He asked residents to remain vigilant and be alert for things like unattended packages or backpacks.
The lockdown order was applied to residents in Boston, Watertown, Newton, Belmont and Cambridge. They came after major developments overnight that resulted in the deaths of a campus police officer as well as one of the bombing suspects, later identified as 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarvaev, Dzhokhar’s brother. Another officer was taken to hospital with serious injuries.
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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s uncle spoke publicly, urging his nephew to turn himself in: “I say, Dzhokhar, if you’re alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness,” Ruslan Tsarni told reporters in an emotional press conference Friday, shortly before noon.
Tsarni told reporters his family has been estranged from the family of the Tsarnaev brothers since 2005. “I could never ever imagine that somehow the children of my brother would be associated with that,” Tsarni said.
When asked what might have been behind the attacks, he answered: “What I think was behind it: being losers.”
Reports say Tamerlan, the man killed, was at one point studying at an area community college, and said he hoped to become an engineer. Dzhokhar was named a City of Cambridge scholarship winner in 2011. Reports about the brothers indicate they are ethnic Chechens who lived in Kyrgyzstan before coming to the United States with their family roughly a decade ago.
Maret Tsarnaev, the brothers’ aunt, spoke to media from her home in Toronto, where she said that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar were “normal young men.”
Maret said she believed her nephews may be innocent: “I’m suspicious that the picture was staged,” she said, referring to photos from the day of the Boston Marathon that lead FBI to name the Tsarnaev brothers as suspects. Maret said she called the FBI after seeing pictures of the men on the news.
Friday’s manhunt began late Thursday night with a reported armed carjacking by the bombing suspects that started in the Boston-area community of Cambridge and ended in nearby Watertown.
The subsequent search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev saw Watertown under a heavy police presence Friday. Schools, colleges and universities were closed, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subways and buses service were suspended, and some Amtrack train services were cancelled. Taxi service in Boston was also shut down temporarily.
Also Friday morning, police surrounded a residence in the Boston suburb of Cambridge, Mass. where the brothers were thought to live. Tweets from The Boston Globe indicated police used a loudspeaker to call on whomever was in the house as a SWAT team surrounded the residence, and a helicopter circled overhead. Authorities also evacuated nearby homes. A suspect was not found at the address, an officer told reporters at a press conference shortly before 11:30 a.m.
Authorities urged area residents to be on the lookout for a Caucasian man in a grey hoodie with curly hair. He is the man wearing the white hat in photos released by the FBI Thursday evening.
“We believe this to be a terrorist,” Police Commissioner Ed David told reporters at a press conference at 4:30 a.m. “We believe this to be a man here to kill people.”
The search now underway follows a wild night in Boston that started with the shooting of an university police officer at MIT just after 10 p.m. That man has been identified as Sean Collier, 26.
Photo of MIT police officer Sean Collier, 26, of Somerville, who was killed in confrontation with terror suspects ow.ly/i/1Vws9
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) April 19, 2013
A second man, a transit police officer, was also shot and Governor Patrick said he was undergoing surgery Friday morning and was in serious condition. Local radio station WBUR reports the man is Richard Donahue Jr., 33.
In the wake of the fatal confrontation, there was a car jacking during which reports suggest explosives were thrown from the suspects’ car. Witnesses told CNN they heard dozens of gunshots.
During the pursuit, the individual known as “Suspect 1” was wounded and was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The events unfolded hours after the FBI released photos of the men wanted in connection with the deadly explosions Monday afternoon that left three dead and more than 170 others injured.
“We consider them to be armed and extremely dangerous,” Special Agent Richard DesLauriers, head of the FBI’s Boston field office warned just after 5 p.m. on Thursday. “No one should approach them. No one should attempt to apprehend them except law enforcement. Let me reiterate that caution: do not take any action on your own.”