A 19-year-old suspected of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings with his elder brother was captured by police after a day-long manhunt on Friday that closed down the city and turned a working-class suburb into a virtual military zone.
The capture sent waves of relief and jubilation through Boston and the suburb of Watertown, where armored vehicles roamed the streets and helicopters flew overhead through the day. Residents and police officers cheered and clapped when the suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured after a gunfight.
Bleeding and in serious condition, he was admitted to a Boston hospital, a Massachusetts State Police spokesman said.
Kelly Lawman, a spokeswoman for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, yesterday confirmed that Tsarnaev was being treated there, but declined comment on his condition. The FBI would be providing any updates, she said.
It was not yet clear when he would face initial charges.
Tsarnaev had been hiding in the stern of a boat parked in the backyard of a house in Watertown, police said. A resident called police after spotting blood on the boat.
US President Barack Obama told reporters at the White House after the suspect’s capture that questions remained from the bombings, including whether the two suspects received any help.
The brothers, ethnic Chechens who once lived in Russia, are suspected of setting off bombs made in pressure cookers and packed with ball bearings and nails at the crowded finish line of Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring 176.
The family of Martin Richard, an eight-year-old boy killed in the blast, welcomed the arrest.
“Tonight, our community is once again safe from these two men,” the family said in a statement.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed on Thursday night in a shootout with police.
After combing through a mass of pictures and video from the site in the minutes before the bombing, the FBI had publicized pictures of the two men on Thursday and asked the public for help identifying them.
Just hours later, events began to unfold fast with the fatal shooting of a police officer on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and finally the Watertown firefight, during which police say the brothers threw bombs at officers. Tamerlan suffered fatal wounds, while Dzhokhar escaped on foot.
The hunt for Dzhokhar emptied Boston’s streets as the city went into lockdown for most of Friday.
The hunt focused on Watertown, where police officers went door-to-door and searched houses. Two Black Hawk helicopters circled the area and SWAT teams moved through in formation.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick lifted the “stay-in-place” order for Boston late on Friday.
Police were alerted to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s whereabouts by a Watertown resident who went outside after the order was lifted.
The reisdent saw blood on a boat in the backyard, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said.
He then lifted up the tarp covering the boat and “saw a man covered with blood,” Davis said.
Police moved in.
“There was an exchange of gunfire, and I don’t know if he was struck,” Davis said of the suspect.
Using a bullhorn, authorities called on the suspect to surrender, but he refused to give himself up.
“We used a robot to pull the tarp off the boat,” David Procopio of the Massachusetts State Police said. “We were also watching him with a thermal imaging camera in our helicopter. He was weakened by blood loss — injured last night most likely.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custody after authorities rushed the boat, Davis said.
In separate interviews, the parents of the Tsarnaev brothers said they believed their sons were incapable of carrying out the bombings.
“Somebody clearly framed them. I don’t know who exactly framed them, but they did. They framed them and they were so cowardly that they shot the boy dead,” father Anzor Tsarnaev said in Dagestan’s provincial capital, Makhachkala.
“It’s impossible, impossible, for both of them to do such things, so I am really, really telling that this is a setup,” the brothers’ mother, Zubeidat Tsaraeva, told CNN in English.