Bombing manhunt locks down Boston

By Michael Pearson and Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 2:47 PM EDT, Fri April 19, 2013
 
 

(CNN) — One suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings is dead. The other — his brother — was on the run Friday, pursued by an army of law enforcement officials whose manhunt virtually shut down the city.

A man identified by several sources as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died after an overnight shootout with police. He’s the man described Thursday by the FBI as black-capped Suspect No. 1 in the attacks Monday that killed three.

His brother, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, apparently escaped — leading police to throw a huge dragnet around the region. In photos released by the FBI of the bombing suspects, the younger brother is seen wearing a white cap. The agency called him Suspect No. 2.

Developments moved quickly:

— Amid worries that Dzhokar Tsarnaev could be trying to escape the area, Connecticut state police issued a new alert urging police to be on the lookout for a car that could be connected to the case. “The suspect may be operating a 1999 green Honda Civic” with Massachusetts plates 116 GC7, according to the alert.

After more than 12 hours of intense operations, police had finished about 60% to 70% of their door-to-door search of Watertown, said Col. Timothy Alben of the Massachusetts State Police. Bomb techs plan to conduct a controlled blast later in Cambridge, an indication that police found suspected explosives.

— Massachusetts National Guard helicopters ferried law enforcement around the Boston area as 50 Guardsmen armed with 9mm pistols worked traffic and security details, CNN’s Barbara Starr reported.

— Dzhokar Tsarnaev became a U.S. citizen on September 11, 2012, the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, a federal official told CNN’s Mike Ahlers.

— A Maryland man who said he was the suspects’ uncle told reporters the two men had brought shame on their family and all ethnic Chechens with the attacks, which he called an atrocity. “If you’re alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness,” Ruslan Tsarni urged his nephew.

— A former teacher at the high school Dzhokar Tsarnaev attended, who lives near Tsarnaev’s residence now, described the younger brother as “a wonderful kid” who seemed incapable of such violence.

— Wednesday, two days after the bombings, Dzhokar Tsarnaev apparently tweeted, “I’m a stress free kind of guy.” Early Tuesday, he tweeted, “There are people that know the truth but stay silent & there are people that speak the truth but we don’t hear them cuz they’re the minority.”

— Tamerlan Tsarnaev was wearing explosives and a triggering device when he died, a source briefed on the investigation told CNN’s Deborah Feyerick.

The search followed a violent night in which authorities say the men allegedly hurled explosives at pursuers after killing Massachusetts Institute of Technology police Officer Sean Collier, robbing a convenience store and hijacking a car.

Police ordered businesses in the suburb of Watertown and nearby communities to stay closed and told residents to stay inside and answer the door for no one but authorities. Boston authorities advised the same. The city’s subway, bus, Amtrak train systems and Greyhound and Bolt Bus — a regional carrier — have been shut down. Taxi service across the city also was suspended for a time during the manhunt. Every Boston area school is closed.

Boston’s public transit authority sent city buses to Watertown to evacuate residents while bomb experts combed the surroundings for possible explosives.

Police officers in full body armor, carrying automatic weapons, flooded the area, traveling the streets in convoys and going door-to-door to track the suspect down.

Massachusetts State Police spokesman Col. Timothy Alben asked residents for patience.

“We need more time,” he said. “We’re making significant progress up there. But it may take hours to do this.”

“This situation is grave,” Alben said earlier. “This is a very serious situation that we are dealing with.”

Violent night

The violence began late Thursday with the robbery of a convenience store, according to Alben.

Soon after, in Cambridge, across the Charles River from Boston, Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier was fatally shot while he sat in his car, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. Police believe the bombing suspects were responsible for the shooting.

The two suspects, according to authorities, then hijacked a vehicle at gunpoint in Cambridge, telling the driver that they are the marathon bombers, a law enforcement source told CNN’s Joe Johns.

At some point, apparently at a gas station, the source said, the driver escaped.

Police, who were tracking the vehicle using its built-in GPS system, picked up the chase in Watertown. The pursuit went into a residential neighborhood, with the suspects throwing explosives at police.

A firefight erupted and ultimately one bomber — later identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev — got out of the car. Police shot him, and his brother ran over him as he drove away, according to the source.

Richard H. Donohue Jr., 33, a three-year veteran of the transit system police force, was shot and wounded in the incident and taken to a hospital, a transit police spokesman said Friday. The officer’s condition was not immediately known.

Details about the suspects

Police believe the brothers are the same men pictured in images released Thursday by the FBI as suspects in the marathon bombing that killed three people Monday.

The men are shown in the images walking together near the marathon finish line.

The first suspect — apparently Tamerlan Tsarnaev, according to authorities — appears in the images wearing a dark hat, sunglasses and a backpack. The second suspect, wearing a white cap, is the one who remains at large, police said.

According to a source briefed on the investigation, the brothers came from the Russian Caucasus and had moved to Kazakhstan at a young age before coming to the United States several years ago.

A statement from the office of Chechnya’s president echoed that: “According to preliminary information, coming from the relevant agencies, the Tsarnaev family moved many years ago out of Chechnya to another Russian region,” press secretary Alvi Kamirov told Russia’s semi-official Interfax news agency. “After that they lived for some time in Kazakhstan, and from there went to the U.S. where the family members received a residence permit. Therefore the individuals concerned did not live as adults in Chechnya.”

Two sources told CNN Dzhokar Tsarnaev came to the U.S. as a tourist with his family in the early 2000s and later asked for asylum. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2012. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was not a naturalized citizen, a source said. He came “a few years later” and was lawfully in the United States as a green-card holder.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev had studied at Bunker Hill Community College and wanted to become an engineer, the source said. He then took a year off to train as a boxer.

The source said that a posting on a social media site in the elder brother’s name included the comments: “I don’t have a single American friend. I don’t understand them.”

Dzhokar Tsarnaev attended Cambridge Rindge & Latin, a public high school, said Eric Mercado, who graduated a year behind the suspect. Mercado said Tsarnaev had worked at Harvard University as a lifeguard.

“We hung out; we partied; we were good high school friends,” Mercado told CNN.

“We’re all, like, in shock. We don’t really understand. There were no telltale signs of any kind of malicious behavior from Dzhokar. It’s all coming as a shock, really.”

Mercado said he lived a block away from the suspect and did not know his older brother.

Dzhokar Tsarnaev is currently registered as a student at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, which ordered its campus evacuated on Friday. The school is located 65 miles south of Cambridge, just west of New Bedford.

Larry Aaronson, Dzhokar Tsarnaev’s neighbor and a former teacher at the high school Tsarnaev attended, called him a “wonderful kid.”

“He was so grateful to be here, he was compassionate, he was caring, he was jovial,” Aaronson told CNN.

Thank you to CNN for this article.

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