The two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed a university police officer, then hurled explosives at police in a car chase and gun battle overnight that left one of them dead and his brother on the loose, authorities said yesterday as thousands of officers swarmed the streets in a manhunt that all but paralyzed the Boston area.
The suspects were identified by law enforcement officials and a family member as Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, brothers from a Russian region near Chechnya, which has been plagued by an Islamic insurgency that has carried out deadly bombings. They lived near Boston and had been in the US for about a decade, an uncle said.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a 26-year-old who had been known to the FBI as “Suspect No. 1” and was seen in surveillance footage in a black baseball cap, was killed overnight, officials said.
His 19-year-old brother — dubbed “Suspect No. 2” and seen wearing a white, backward baseball cap in the images from Monday’s deadly bombing at the marathon finish line — escaped.
The law enforcement officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the unfolding case.
Authorities in Boston suspended all mass transit systems and warned close to 1 million people in the city and some of its suburbs to stay indoors as the hunt went on. Businesses were asked not to open. People waiting at bus and subway stops were told to go home.
“We believe this man to be a terrorist,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said. “We believe this to be a man who’s come here to kill people.”
The bombings on Monday killed three people and wounded more than 180, tearing off limbs in a spray of shrapnel and instantly raising the specter of another terrorist attack on US soil.
The endgame — at least for one of the brothers — came just hours after the FBI released photos and video of the two young men at the finish line, and appealed to the public for help in identifying and capturing them. Tips came pouring in to the FBI immediately, but exactly how authorities managed to close in on the two was not immediately disclosed.
The men’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Maryland, said that the men traveled here together from the Russian region near Chechnya.
Their father, Anzor Tsarnaev, said in a telephone interview from the Russian city of Makhachkala that his younger son, Dzhokhar, is “a true angel.”
“Dzhokhar is a second-year medical student in the US. He is such an intelligent boy. We expected him to come on holidays here,” the father said.
The White House said US President Barack Obama was being briefed on developments overnight by Lisa Monaco, his assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism.
The images released by the FBI depict the two young men walking one behind the other near the finish line. Richard DesLauriers, the FBI agent in charge in Boston, said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was seen setting down a bag at the site of the second of two deadly explosions.
Authorities said surveillance tape recorded late on Thursday showed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev during a robbery of a convenience store in Cambridge, near the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where university police officer Sean Collier, 26, was shot to death while responding to a report of a disturbance, State Police Colonel Timothy Alben said.
From there, 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 in Cambridge. The man was not injured.