It has been nearly two years since two homemade bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding 264.
We watched as police scoured Boston in a dramatic 24-hour manhunt to find the brothers — one of whom, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was just found guilty of planting the bombs. By the end of that manhunt, the older brother — Tamerlan Tsarnaev — was dead. Dzhokhar was found hiding in a boat in the backyard of a resident of Watertown, Massachusetts.
In the years since, we’ve learned a lot about the Tsarnaev brothers and how they became radicalized by watching the lectures of Al Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki. We’ve learned of Tamerlan’s likely involvement in a 2011 triple homicide in Waltham, Massachusetts. We learned about the sometimes conflicting personalities of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the “normal” popular college kid, and Dzhokhar, the terrorist.
The story below is our narrative of what happened that day and the many days that followed. It is based on eyewitness statements and photos, press conferences, a criminal complaint, and the reporting of more than a dozen media organisations, including this one. BI’s Brett Logiurato and Henry Blodget wrote and published the story about a week after the bombing. (Please see the last page for specific sources and credits.)
Monday, April 15, 2013
On Monday, April 15, 2013, an 8-year-old boy named Martin Richard went to the Boston Marathon with his family. It was a beautiful spring day. Around 2:45 p.m. that afternoon, Martin was standing up on a guardrail on Boylston Street to get a better look at the marathon runners nearing the finish line.
Martin loved sports. He was a Red Sox fan, and he played Little League. He had a big black infielder’s glove, and he listened carefully to his coaches. Martin’s Little League team, the Rangers, had been practicing for their first game of the season, which was the last Saturday in April. Martin would never play in that game.
The picture below shows Martin Richard in the last few seconds of his life, standing on the guardrail near the marathon finish line. Martin’s father Bill, his mother Denise, and his 7-year-old sister Jane are with him.
Remarkably, this picture also shows the backpack containing the bomb that was about to kill Martin, as well as the man who planted it. Briefly known as “Suspect 2,” the man in the white baseball hat in the background was then-19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, an American college student from Cambridge. Dzhokhar had just placed the backpack near the guardrail and was walking away.
Like the Richards, Dzhokhar had arrived at this, his targeted location, at approximately 2:45 p.m. Shortly thereafter, authorities say, he moved to the guardrail and dropped the backpack onto the ground. After walking past the Richards and other spectators, Dzhokhar loitered in front of the Forum restaurant at 755 Boylston Street for about four minutes, looking occasionally at his mobile phone and once appearing to take a picture with it. Eventually, at 2:49 p.m., Dzhokhar lifted the phone to his ear.
A few seconds later, down the street, a bomb exploded.
That bomb was made and placed by Dzhokhar’s now-deceased 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan. Like the one in Dzhokhar’s backpack, it was a homemade “improvised explosive device” — a pressure cooker filled with gunpowder, ball bearings, and nails.
The bomb was designed to kill and maim people, and it did. It also created a fireball and blast that could be heard up and down Boylston Street.
At the sound of the explosion, virtually everyone standing on Boylston Street near Dzhokhar Tsarnaev turned their heads and looked down the street in bewilderment and alarm.
But not Dzhokhar.
Dzhokhar remained calm, as though nothing had happened.
After the explosion, amid the confusion, Dzhokhar rapidly began walking west, away from the marathon finish line. The backpack he had placed near the guardrail was still on the ground. Twelve seconds after the first bomb went off, the homemade pressure-cooker bomb inside Dzhokhar’s pack exploded.
Shrapnel from the second bomb tore through the Richard family and other people nearby, literally blowing them apart. The bomb killed 8-year-old Martin Richard. It tore off his sister Jane’s leg. It put his mother in the hospital with a serious brain injury. It blew off limbs, ripped gashes in dozens of people, and sprayed blood, flesh, and bone all over the footpath.
The devastation caused by the bombs turned Boylston Street into a war zone. The photos of the blasts and the chaotic and horrifying moments that followed are unforgettable.
In the chaos that followed the blasts, a remarkable thing happened.
Despite the risk that other bombs might explode anywhere at any time, policemen, race volunteers, doctors, and spectators immediately descended on the carnage and began helping those who had been crippled and hurt. Firefighters began searching frantically for a rumoured third bomb. Runners stopped running to help victims. These and other quick responses saved several people who might otherwise have bled to death.
A then-27-year-old named Jeff Bauman, for example, had both legs blown off below the knee. A marathon spectator named Carlos Arredondo, who had lost one of his sons in the Iraq war and the other to suicide, was attending the marathon to support a runner honouring his sons. Arredondo tied a cloth tourniquet around one of Bauman’s legs and pinched Bauman’s bleeding artery closed on the other. Moments later, Arredondo, still wearing his cowboy hat, helped two others wheel Bauman toward a medical tent.
A race volunteer named E.J. Occhiboi, who was volunteering two blocks away from the marathon’s finish line, saw a medical tent reserved to treat marathon finishers and sprang into action with the wounded.
One bystander who had been rushed into the tent had a deep, three-inch-wide gash in his leg with a piece of shrapnel sticking out of it.
“You could just see … a chunk of his hamstring was gone,” Occhiboi said.
Up and down Boylston Street, volunteers, runners, firefighters, policemen, and medical personnel rushed to help the victims of the bombs. This response was one of the first of many inspiring moments that would occur in Boston over the next five days.
Over the next several hours, there were frequent rumours and reports of other bombs. Authorities were briefly worried that a third bomb had been placed under the grandstand, and firefighters searched desperately for it. A fire in the JFK library was initially linked to the bombings. Backpacks and other belongings abandoned by fleeing spectators, or just lost in the confusion, had to be searched, for fear that they contained more bombs.
As word spread of the horror, relatives and friends of runners and spectators began trying to make contact with their loved ones, desperate to make sure that everything was OK. The cellular networks didn’t work, however, so many of these communication attempts failed.
In most cases, this brief panic ended as it did for the man and woman below — in joy and relief. In many other cases, however, it didn’t.
In all, 260 people were wounded by the blasts. Three were killed.
Speaking from the White House Monday evening, President Barack Obama vowed that those responsible for the attacks would be found.
Police had no suspects, however. No motive. And no leads.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
As the immediate horror of the bombings passed, the focus turned to the victims.
The first confirmed death was 8-year-old Martin Richard.
When Martin’s father, Bill Richard, returned to the family’s house in Dorchester Monday night, he was still wearing hospital scrubs. A neighbour asked if he was ok. He didn’t respond. A friend who had driven Bill home explained that Martin was the child who had died. The neighbour said her “heart just fell.”
The Richards were deeply involved in the Dorchester community, and Martin’s death was felt far beyond the family. That day, Bill Richard made his first public statement:
“My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston. My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries. We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met, for their thoughts and prayers.”
Martin Richard’s wide, gap-toothed smile quickly became a defining image of the tragedy. Mourners left flowers, stuffed animals, and “Peace” signs in the Richard family’s driveway.
Another photo of Martin also went viral.
In the photo, Richard was holding up a sign he made after learning of the death of Trayvon Martin.
“No more hurting people,” it reads. “Peace.”
“The outpouring of love and support over the last week has been tremendous,” Bill and Denise Richard would later say after burying their son. “This has been the most difficult week of our lives and we appreciate that our friends and family have given us space to grieve and heal.”
Krystle Campbell, 29 — who had gone to the marathon with her friend Karen Rand to watch Rand’s boyfriend cross the finish line — was the second bombing victim to be identified.
A restaurant manager from Arlington, Krystle made friends easily, and kept them: She had been a bridesmaid in 17 different weddings. At her job at Jimmy’s Steer House, she oversaw a dining room staff of 45 servers, and she was known for her ability to handle difficult customers. Krystle’s grandmother Lillian told Sports Illustrated that her happiness was so infectious that “no one could be depressed around her.”
Krystle went to the marathon every year. The day of the bombings, having not heard from her, Krystle’s family went to Massachusetts General Hospital to look for her. To their great relief, they were told that Krystle was hurt, but alive. For many hours, doctors occasionally emerged from an operating room to tell Krystle’s parents, William and Patty, how she was doing. At 2 a.m., the Campbells were finally allowed into a recovery room to see Krystle. It was there that they discovered that the patient the doctors had been working to save was not Krystle, but her friend, Karen Rand, who had lost a leg. Krystle, the Campbells soon learned, was dead.
Friends of another young woman, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student named Lingzi Lu, had also been searching frantically for her since the bombs went off.
They began posting to Facebook and Twitter the afternoon of the bombing. Lingzi had gone to the marathon, they said, and now she was missing. Lingzi’s friends posted pictures of her online and begged people to help find her. The next morning, having heard nothing, Lingzi’s roommate at BU and other friends went looking for her. They travelled from hospital to hospital until they reached the Boston Medical Center, where they learned that doctors were treating an unidentified Asian woman who was not well enough to be seen.
Lingzi’s roommate and friends waited for hours at the hospital, only to learn, as Krystle Campbell’s parents had, that the patient being treated was not Lingzi. And then they learned that Lingzi was dead.
Lingzi was from a city in northeastern China called Shenyang. Her friends described her as “a kind young woman with a passion for music who hoped to find love in America.” Her teachers described her as “bubbly” and as an exceptional student. The day before she was killed, Lingzi learned that she had passed a key part of an exam required for her degree in statistics.
Lingzi’s death was not publicly confirmed until Wednesday, April 17. Shortly afterward, more than 14,000 condolence notes had already been posted to her page on China’s version of Twitter, Sina Weibo. Her parents called her death a “dagger to the heart.”</>
How to relax after a mass-murder? Play soccer on XBox
On the same day that Lingzi Lu’s friends were searching for her, one of the men who had helped kill her, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, returned to his normal life as a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
In what might be described as a case study on the banality of evil, Dzhokhar worked out at the college gym the night after the bombing. He played FIFA soccer on an Xbox in his dorm room. He smoked pot, which is something other students said he frequently did. And he resumed his frequent postings on Twitter.
Dzhokhar’s first Tweet after the bombings had appeared at 5:04 p.m. on Monday afternoon, only two hours and 20 minutes after the bombs exploded:
“Ain’t no love in the heart of the city, stay safe people,” it read.
Later that evening, Dzhokhar’s tweets continued. The user Dzhokhar was replying to below has since deleted the account, so it’s not clear what Dzhokhar was talking about, but the middle tweet, especially, is chilling:
At 9:34 p.m. on Monday evening — seven hours after the bombings — Dzhokhar concluded his public statements for the day. His final tweet appears to shed some light into his state of mind:
Dzhokhar resumed his tweeting the morning after the bombing. He responded to other Twitter users, giving one advice to use “Claritin Clear.” He also provided some commentary about the bombings, deeming one story “fake.” And he tweeted some lyrics from the rapper Emininem expressing the feeling that what most normal people talk about is “gibberish.”
Toward the end of the day, Dzhokhar also proudly announced that he was “a stress free kind of guy.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did not appear to have been actively trying to “blend in” during the days after the bombings. He just appeared to be doing what he normally did: Hang out in the dorm. Work out. Go to class. Play video games. Outwardly, at least, the experience of becoming a mass-murderer did not appear to have changed him.
The behaviour of Dzhokhar’s brother Tamerlan in the days after the bombings was less public than Dzhokhar’s but perhaps no less mundane.
Tamerlan, 26, was married to an American woman named Katherine Russell, and they lived in an apartment in Cambridge. Tamerlan, neighbours said, often stayed home and took care of his 3-year-old daughter while his wife worked as a home health aide. Neighbours described Tamerlan as friendly and outgoing and said he, too, often played video games.
In the days after the bombings, Tamerlan reportedly shopped at Whole Foods. He took his daughter to the park. He asked one neighbour whether the neighbour had “seen what happened,” referring to the bombings.
In short, Tamerlan seemed to do what he usually did.
By the evening of Tuesday, April 16, reporters from most major TV networks and news organisations had descended on Boston, desperate for any information about the bombers.
The FBI and other authorities, however, had provided little new information. Special Agent Rick Deslauriers from the FBI vowed that authorities would “go to the ends of the Earth” to find those responsible, but he had nothing new on leads or suspects.
Wednesday, April 17
Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, the media thought it had what the whole world wanted: A bombing suspect.
Better yet, the suspect had been apprehended and would now be marched in front of TV cameras for a perp walk.
Shortly after noon, reports began trickling out that authorities had a suspect in custody. In one of several major media gaffes during the week, CNN reported this information, along with the Associated Press and Boston Globe. The suspect was being taken to the federal courthouse, some of these reports said, and media and spectators descended on the place. Then, minutes later, to the dismay of the CNN newsroom and millions of people around the world, the reports were retracted.
These media reports and others drew a scathing rebuke from the FBI, which worried the false reports could affect the ongoing investigation.
“Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate,” the FBI said. “Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.”
Unbeknownst to the media, the FBI did have suspects by this time — they just didn’t yet know who they were.
Thanks to surveillance cameras near the scene of the bombings, and information gleaned from one of the survivors, the FBI was focusing on two men in baseball hats who were seen leaving backpacks where the bombs exploded.
Some of the information investigators received came from one of the men who was nearly killed by the bombs — 27-year-old Jeff Bauman.
When Bauman woke up from surgery, after losing both of his legs, he immediately asked for a pen and paper.
“Bag, saw the guy, looked right at me,” Jeff wrote, Jeff’s brother Chris later told Bloomberg.
The man who looked into Jeff Bauman’s eyes had been wearing a cap, sunglasses, and a black jacket over a hooded sweatshirt. He had dropped a bag at Jeff Bauman’s feet. Two and a half minutes later, the bomb in the bag had exploded, blowing off both Jeff’s legs below the knees.
Although no one yet knew it, the man who had dropped off the bag was Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Alienated, arrogant, and angry.
Later, when the identity of the suspects was released, a consensus quickly developed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been the driving force behind the bombings. His younger brother Dzhokhar, most friends and relatives agreed, had likely followed Tamerlan’s lead. (Dzhokhar’s lawyer would later argue in court that his dead brother was the main instigator of the crime, in an apparent attempt to help her client avoid the death penalty.)
Tamerlan Tsarnaev had emigrated with his family from Dagestan, Russia, a decade earlier, when Tamerlan was about 16. Tamerlan’s grandparents had been native Chechens, who had been deported to Kyrgystan by the Stalin regime. Tamerlan’s father, Anzor, was one of 10 siblings. His wife Zubeidat came from Dagestan, a republic of Russia. Anzor became a lawyer and worked in the prosecutor’s office in Bishkek, Kyrgystan. He and his wife had four children: Tamerlan, two daughters named Ailina and Bella, and Dzhokhar.
According to a comprehensive profile of the family by the Wall Street Journal, Anzor Tsarnaev was fired from his job in 1999, after the Kremlin tried to suppress an insurgency. To feed his family, Anzor worked as a mechanic. The family moved to the capital of Dagestan, Makhachkala, and then to the US.
The Tsarnaevs lived near Boston, on the border between Somerville and Cambridge, in a cramped third floor apartment. Once again, Anzor worked as a mechanic, often fixing cars on the street for $US10 an hour. Anzor’s wife, Zubeidat, became a cosmetologist and gave facials at a spa. The family received food stamps and welfare payments. Tamerlan and Dzhokhar both attended Cambridge Rindge & Latin high school. Tamerlan was said to be quiet and often skipped class. His passion was boxing.
Tamerlan’s father Anzor had been a boxer, and Tamerlan followed in his footsteps and eventually became one of the best amateur boxers in the country. He won a New England regional competition in 2009 and qualified for the National Golden Gloves tournament, where he lost in the first round. He won the regional competition again the next year. He was described as a smooth but “cocky” and “arrogant” fighter, who seemed disdainful of other competitors.
Tamerlan attended community college for a while, but he didn’t have a steady job. And by 2009, he had developed another passion: religion.
The Tsarnaev brothers’ uncle Ruslan, who dominated network television during the all-day manhunt for Dzhokhar, said that by 2009, Tamerlan had changed and was increasingly “spewing this radical crap.” Tamerlan was offended by Muslim immigrants’ attempts to “assimilate” into the US. He berated members of his local mosque and Muslim community who weren’t as devout as he thought they should be.
In a boxing profile that was widely shared, Tamerlan was quoted as saying, “I don’t have a single American friend. I don’t understand them.”
In 2009, Tamerlan was arrested for domestic abuse after allegedly slapping his girlfriend. In 2011, to his father’s dismay, he also quit boxing. On September 11th of that year, in a case that got renewed scrutiny after the bombing, one of Tamerlan’s friends, Brendan Mess, was brutally murdered in Waltham.
Also in 2011, the Russian authorities reportedly taped a telephone call between one of the Boston suspects and his mother, Zubeidat, in which the topic of jihad was vaguely discussed. Zubeidat had joined Tamerlan in his zealous devotion to radical Islam and had returned to Russia after she and Anzor had split up.
Earlier that year, as Tamerlan requested permission to leave the US to visit Dagestan, the Russian authorities asked the FBI to investigate him. Neither the FBI nor the CIA found anything worth following up on.
Thursday, April 18, 20013
President Barack Obama started out Thursday promising the US would find those responsible for the attacks.
That morning, Obama gave an emotional speech at an interfaith memorial service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, decrying the “small, stunted individuals” behind the attacks.
“Yes, we will find you,” Obama said. “And yes, you will face justice.”
At that time, the FBI had not publicly revealed if more than one person was behind the attacks. But what had started out as a promising investigation was stalling. The FBI had images of the two suspects, but it was hesitant about going public with them, for fear of tipping off the suspects and letting them get away. By then, though, the FBI was also getting nervous the suspects would strike again.
On the Thursday morning after the attack, the FBI briefed members of the Obama Administration and Congress on the progress of the investigation. That afternoon, when the flow of promising leads had run dry, the FBI decided to release pictures of the suspects and enlist the public’s help in identifying them.
At a news conference shortly before 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, officials unveiled grainy pictures of men they labelled “Suspect 1” and “Suspect 2.”
The pictures were broadcast on nearly every major television station and published by nearly every online news organisation within seconds.
The reaction was immediate.
The release of the pictures set off a furious chain reaction that over the next 30 hours would lead to another murder, a car-jacking, a sustained shootout, and a day-long manhunt that mirrored a real-life episode of the television show “24.”
At 9:04 p.m. that evening, an acquaintance of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s tweeted a closeup of one of the FBI’s pictures at him, presumably assuming that the “Suspect 2” in the FBI photos merely looked like Dzhokhar:
“Lol… Is this you? I didnt know you went to the marathon!!!”
By then, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan had probably long since figured out that their days of anonymity were over. If they had planned or prepared for this possibility, however, it certainly didn’t show in their actions that evening.
Dzhokhar would later tell investigators that the idea for the bombing itself had been spontaneous, which might be why the brothers didn’t even bother to disguise themselves as they allegedly walked down Boylston Street with their bombs.
And the brothers’ actions the night the pictures were released appeared to be even more spontaneous.
Only one thing left to do: Flee
By mid-evening, the brothers were on the move. They surfaced in Cambridge.
At about 10:20 p.m., a young police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was sitting in his campus patrol car at the end of his eight hour shift. The patrolman, 27-year-old Sean Collier, was well-known and well-liked on campus. He had become friends with some MIT students and had gone hiking and skiing with them. He had also recently been offered his dream job, a spot on the Somerville police force, and would be taking it that summer.
That night, The New York Times reported, an ambulance staffed by students drove past Collier’s parked car. Collier flashed his blue lights briefly to say hello, and the students in the ambulance responded with a flash of their red ones.
Shortly thereafter, two men approached Collier’s car from behind and shot him five times, including twice in the head. The shootings were not provoked. They were not a confrontation. They were, police later said, “an assassination.”
The motive for the shooting was at first mysterious, but would later become clearer: The shooters may have wanted Collier’s gun.
After killing Collier, police say, the shooters tried to steal the gun. But Collier had a triple-lock holster, and they couldn’t figure out how to open it. So, once again, the Tsarnaevs killed an innocent bystander for nothing.
A few minutes later, the ambulance that had flashed its lights at Collier just before he was shot was called back to try to save his life. It was too late. Sean Collier had become the fourth person murdered in the Tsarnaevs’ crusade.
Just before 11 p.m. that night, about 25 minutes after Collier was killed, a 26-year-old Chinese entrepreneur named “Danny” was driving his Mercedes SUV on Brighton Street in Cambridge when he pulled over to answer a text. Danny had gotten a Masters in Engineering at Northeastern the year before, and now he worked at a startup. Initially, it wasn’t clear exactly what had happened to Danny that night, but a reporter named Eric Moskowitz of the Boston Globe later interviewed him and got the full story.
As Danny sat by the side of the road answering the text, a Honda Civic sedan swerved up behind him. A man jumped out of the car, approached Danny’s Mercedes, and then knocked on the passenger-side window.
The man was speaking rapidly, but Danny couldn’t hear him well, so he rolled down the window. The man then reached through the window, unlocked the door, and climbed in. The man demanded money and pointed a silver handgun at Danny.
The man, authorities allege, was Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
“Don’t be stupid,” Tsarnaev said.
Tsarnaev asked Danny if he had followed the recent news.
“Did you hear about the Boston explosion?” Tsarnaev asked. “I did that. And I just killed a policeman in Cambridge.”
Tsarnaev then removed a magazine from his gun, showed Danny that he had a bullet in it, and re-inserted the magazine.
“I am serious,” he said.
Danny had only $US45 in cash, which had been stuffed in an armrest, and a wallet full of credit cards. Learning this, Tsarnaev told Danny to drive.
As Danny drove, Tsarnaev told him where to go. Take a right on Fordham Road. Take a right on Commonwealth. As the Mercedes rolled along, the Honda that Tsarnaev had jumped out of followed along behind.
Danny’s heart was racing so fast that he couldn’t stay in his lane. Tsarnaev told him to relax.
They crossed the Charles River into Watertown. Tsarnaev found Danny’s ATM card in his wallet and demanded the ATM password. Then Tsarnaev directed Danny to a side street in Watertown and told him to pull over.
When the SUV stopped, Tsarnaev got out and ordered Danny to move to the passenger seat. If Danny didn’t comply, Tsarnaev made clear, Tsarnaev would shoot him. Danny complied.
The Honda had stopped behind them, and now the driver, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, got out.
For a few minutes, the brothers transferred what Danny assumed was “luggage” from the sedan to the Mercedes. It turned out to be bombs. Then Tamerlan Tsarnaev climbed into the driver’s seat and Dzhokhar got into the back behind Danny. And the Mercedes pulled away.
They stopped at the Watertown Center. Dzhokhar got out and withdrew cash from an ATM using Danny’s card. Sitting alone in the car with Tamerlan, Danny wondered whether this was his chance to escape. But all the stores nearby were dark and locked, so there was nowhere to flee to.
When Dzhokhar returned, Tamerlan told Danny that they both had guns. Danny never saw a second gun, however, and despite many early reports to the contrary, the police never found one.
The brothers began speaking to each other in a foreign language. Danny caught one word: “Manhattan.”
Bizarrely, Tamerlan then asked Danny whether his car could be driven out of state. Danny didn’t understand. “Like New York,” one brother said.
The car continued west, toward Waltham. The brothers demanded that Danny show them how to use the radio. As they flipped through the stations, they avoided the news, and when they couldn’t find music they liked, they asked Danny whether he had any CDs. Danny didn’t have any CDs, he said — he listened to music on his iPhone.
In what would turn out to be a lucky break, the Mercedes’ gas tank was almost empty. Tamerlan pulled up at a gas station, but the pumps were closed. He turned the car around and headed back toward Boston. Eventually, Tamerlan returned to the sedan they had left in Watertown, and the brothers moved some more stuff out of it into the Mercedes.
This time, when they started driving again, one of the brothers produced a CD with music that Danny said sounded like a Middle Eastern call to prayer.
Suddenly, Danny’s iPhone buzzed with an incoming message. Eric Moskowitz of the Boston Globe describes what happened next:
[It was] a text from his roommate, wondering in Chinese where he was. Barking at Danny for instructions, Tamerlan used an English-to-Chinese app to text a clunky reply.
“I am sick. I am sleeping in a friend’s place tonight.”
In a moment, another text, then a call. No one answered. Seconds later, the phone rang again.
“If you say a single word in Chinese, I will kill you right now,” Tamerlan said. Danny understood. His roommate’s boyfriend was on the other end, speaking Mandarin. “I’m sleeping in my friend’s home tonight,” Danny replied in English. “I have to go.”
“Good boy,” Tamerlan said. “Good job.”
A few minutes later, Danny finally saw his chance.
The SUV pulled up at a gas station on Soldiers Field Road. Dzhokhar got out to fill the tank, planning to pay with one of Danny’s credit cards. A moment later, Dzhokhar rapped on the driver’s side window. “Cash only,” he said to Tamerlan.
Looking down, Tamerlan counted out $US50 of cash and handed it to Dzhokhar. Dzhokhar headed for the gas station office to pay.
Tamerlan’s gun was in the driver’s-side door well. Tamerlan was fiddling with a GPS. Danny’s reflexes took over:
“I was thinking I must do two things,” he told the Globe. “Unfasten my seat belt and open the door and jump out as quick as I can. If I didn’t make it, he would kill me right out, he would kill me right away. I just did it. I did it very fast, using my left hand and right hand simultaneously to open the door, unfasten my seat belt, jump out … and go.”
As Danny bailed out of the car, he heard the startled Tamerlan yell, “Fuck!” And he felt Tamerlan make a grab at him.
Danny didn’t look back. He dashed into the street and ran toward the lights of a Mobil station. Reaching the station, Danny charged inside and told the clerk to call the police. Then he dashed into a storeroom. The clerk initially thought Danny was drunk.
“The door opened quickly,” the clerk, Tareq Ahmed, later told WHDH. “I thought it was a drunk man because of how he opened the door. I got up quick and wanted to yell at him and ask him why he would open the door like this. He fell down right there and then he said, ‘Please call the police. There are people who want to kill me. There are people who want me dead. They have guns and they have a bomb.
“I grabbed the phone and I made sure I was not panicking,” Ahmed continued. “I swear to God I was making the call and I was worried that someone may just come in and shoot me. I couldn’t even look outside. I closed my eyes and I was talking on the phone expecting death at any minute … Just in case someone outside saw me moving, in case they suspect I’m doing something wrong inside and they come in. I wanted to make sure everything looked normal.”
Ahmed dialed 911 and then took the phone to Danny.
Across the street, the Tsarnaev brothers took off.
Because of the murder of Sean Collier earlier in the evening, the area was full of police. Officers arrived at the Mobil station in minutes, and Danny told them what had happened. He told them that the Mercedes could be tracked using a Mercedes satellite system. He told them that his iPhone was still in the Mercedes and that it, too, could be tracked.
Danny had been held prisoner by the Tsarnaevs for nearly an hour and a half. His daring escape had finally given the police the break they needed. And, given the brothers’ apparent intention to drive to New York, it had possibly saved New York from a terrorist attack.
By now, it was early Friday morning. The hunt for the Boston bombing suspects was more than four days old. And, finally, the Tsarnaevs’ luck was about to come to an end.
Friday, April 19, 2013
After Danny escaped, the Tsarnaevs returned for a third time to the Honda sedan they had been driving before they carjacked Danny’s Mercedes. As they drove, the police tracked the SUV using the Mercedes’ GPS system.
At 12:42 a.m., a dispatcher announced that the Mercedes was in Watertown, near 89 Dexter Street.
A single Watertown officer, Joe Reynolds, replied.
“I’m right behind that vehicle,” he said.
The Sergeant on duty, John MacLellan, told Reynolds to hang back, not to engage. Reynolds did not engage.
But suddenly, the SUV turned a corner and stopped in front of the Honda sedan. The brothers jumped out.
“They jump out of the car and unload on our police officer,” Boston police chief Edward Deveau later told CNN. “They both came out shooting — shooting guns, handguns. He’s under direct fire, very close by. He has to jam it in reverse and try to get himself a little distance.”
Reynolds pulled back from the shooting. Then Sergeant John MacLellan arrived. As MacLellan drove up the street in a Ford Expedition, a bullet hit the windshield. Both officers got out of their cars and began firing back at the brothers.
A third officer, Tim Menton, was on his way home from his shift when he heard the radio call. He raced to the intersection of Laurel and Dexter streets. When he hit Dexter, a bullet blew through his windshield.
Watertown Sergeant Jeff Pugliese was also on his way home when he heard the call. He, too, raced toward the scene. Then two more officers arrived.
At one point in the firefight, a Laurel Street resident told the Globe, a policeman shouted toward the brothers: “Give up! There’s no way out! Give up!”
Still sheltered behind the Mercedes SUV, Tamerlan Tsarnaev shouted right back:
“You want more? I give you more!”
In a clever manoeuvre, Sergeant MacLellan put his Expedition in neutral and let it roll slowly toward the Tsarnaevs with its lights flashing. He hoped the brothers would think he was still in it and shoot at it, using up valuable ammunition. Meanwhile, he would be in a position to get a good shot at them.
Then the brothers began throwing explosives.
One was another pressure-cooker bomb, which set off a huge explosion and blew the lid of the pressure cooker into a nearby car. Two more bombs exploded. Two more were duds.
“There are [expletive] bombs, they have got [expletive] IEDs,” one FBI agent reportedly shouted, as he ran toward the scene. “Everyone get your [expletive] phones off. No phones. They have got IEDs. [Improvised Explosive Devices]”
Meanwhile, Watertown Sergeant Jeff Pugliese went for position.
Instead of rushing right into the firefight, Pugliese drove up a side street. He ran through a backyard, scaled a chain link fence, and then approached the Tsarnaevs from the side. He got within 12 feet of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and started firing. Tamerlan turned and fired back.
Pugliese thinks he hit Tamerlan, wounding him. Then Tamerlan ran out of ammunition and threw his gun at Pugliese, hitting him in the arm.
Out of bullets and hurt, Tamerlan suddenly ran toward the main group of officers. Pugliese, Reynolds, and MacLellan charged Tamerlan, tackling him to the ground and then handcuffing him. Then they heard an engine roar.
Up the street, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was behind the wheel of the still-operable Mercedes. Turning around and accelerating rapidly, Dzhokhar drove straight at the officers, his brother, and the police barricade.
As the Mercedes approached, Pugliese, MacLellan, and Reynolds dove out of the way. Dzhokhar drove right over Tamerlan, dragging his body about 30 feet. One Watertown resident saw the lights of the SUV lurch up and down as Dzhokhar hit his brother. Another, watching from her second-floor window, said Tamerlan was still moving when the SUV separated from him. Tamerlan was lying on his belly, she said, trying to lift his head. At 12:48 a.m., Dzhokhar careened through the two police cars at the end of the street and drove off into the darkness.
The gunfight had lasted about four minutes. More than 250 shots had been fired, the vast majority of which had likely come from the police. The next day, when police searched the scene, they found only one silver handgun of the brothers’ — Tamerlan’s. In another indication of the Tsarnaevs’ lack of preparedness, they also found a BB gun.
A Transit Authority officer, Richard Donahue, was severely wounded in the firefight. A witness told the Globe that police officers had been firing from behind Donahue, and it’s possible that the bullet that hit Donahue came from them. (The D.A. is investigating.) Donahue was hit in the femoral artery and very nearly died. Only the desperate efforts of several police officers to stanch the bleeding, get Donahue into an ambulance, perform chest compressions, and drive the ambulance to Mount Auburn hospital saved his life.
After fleeing the firefight, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev drove the battered SUV about a half a mile, to the corner of Spruce and Lincoln Streets.
Then he took off on foot.
Dzhokhar was wounded — he had what appeared to be shrapnel wounds, perhaps from the brothers’ bombs, on his neck, ear, and thigh — and the police found blood in the SUV. They also found blood and urine in a nearby yard.
But for another 16 hours, that would be all they would find.
According to a Watertown resident, the police were only about 45 seconds behind Dzhokhar as he sped away from the scene. Soon, they were swarming the neighbourhood, going house to house. They set up a command post in the Arsenal mall. They searched the abandoned SUV. They began analysing the scene of the firefight. They drew up a five-sector search grid, with a 20-block perimeter around the SUV. They searched hundreds of houses. They stripped and handcuffed a man who seemed suspicious (the famous “naked man” that many TV viewers and digital sleuths were convinced was Tamerlan), and then determined that he was a resident. And they kept searching in vain for Dzhokhar, who had disappeared into the night.
By morning, an estimated 1,000 police officers were roaming the streets of Watertown, including SWAT teams and the National Guard. Police were running down every tip that came in, including many that came from crazy or paranoid people. Residents said the police searched everywhere, sometimes multiple times, but some residents also said they didn’t do a particularly thorough searching job.
One resident near where Dzhokhar was eventually found, for example, showed police into a barn and had to remind them to suggest that they search the basement. Another resident said a policeman shone a flashlight at a person-sized hole in the crawl-space under his house — but then never bothered to look in it. And no one, apparently, thought to look in a large covered boat in the backyard of a house on Franklin Street called “Slip Away 2.”
Meanwhile, the entire city of Boston had been shut down.
Public transportation ceased operating. The Red Sox and Bruins games were cancelled. Schools were closed. Residents were asked to stay in their homes.
For a whole day, with the exception of the non-stop action in Watertown, the city became a ghost town.
Inman Square, normally one of the busiest intersections in Boston area, basically a ghost town twitter.com/Dan_Rowinski/s…
— Dan_Rowinski (@Dan_Rowinski) April 19, 2013PIC from Boston from cnn colleague RT @adamatcnn: Ghost town twitter.com/AdamATCNN/stat…
— Antonio Regalado (@antonioregalado) April 19, 2013
The Slip Away 2
At 6 p.m. on Friday, April 19, after 15 hours of fruitless searching, then-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick told people they could finally leave their houses. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had disappeared. It was time for life to return to normal.
Over on Franklin Street, Watertown resident David Henneberry was glad to finally be able to go outside.
He had been looking at his boat, the Slip Away 2, out his windows all day, and something had been bugging him about it.
Two pads that he had put under the boat’s shrink-wrap cover to stop chaffing had fallen to the ground. It had been windy, so he didn’t think this was strange, but he wanted to put the pads back.
Henneberry went outside and put the pads back. The strap holding the shrink-wrap down was also loose, but the wind could have done that, too. So Henneberry tightened the strap and returned to his house.
But something was still bugging him.
So he went back outside to check out the boat again.
This time, Henneberry got a ladder, and climbed up. He rolled back the shrink-wrap and looked in the boat. Then he saw blood. A lot of it.
He didn’t think, “Holy crap, I’ve found the bomber!”
He thought, “Did I cut myself last time?”
Then he looked farther into the boat, behind the engine block. And then he saw Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Henneberry doesn’t know whether he knew the body he saw in his boat was Tsarnaev’s, but he didn’t stop to think about it too hard. He also “didn’t ask him if he wanted a cup of coffee.”
Henneberry doesn’t remember climbing back down the ladder or calling 911.
But, soon, the police were there, and he and his wife were being escorted off the property.
There were soon reports and videos of another intense firefight between the suspect and police on Franklin Street. All of that firing, however, came from the police. Someone started shooting, a Superintendent later explained, and then lots of other people started shooting, and then the Superintendent yelled “Hold your fire!” By that time, the Slip Away 2 looked like Swiss cheese.
The police established another command post nearby and coordinated an approach on the boat.
Nearly three hours later, at 8:45 p.m. on Friday evening, five days after he and his brother had blown apart men, women, children, friends, and families near the finish line of Boston marathon, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was finally in custody.
Now that he’s been found guilty on 30 counts related to the bombing, he could face the death penalty.
Sources and Credits
This story was originally written by Brett LoGiurato and Henry Blodget and updated by Harrison Jacobs. Additional reporting was provided by Michael Kelley, Adam Taylor, Joe Weisenthal, Julia LaRoche, Gus Lubin, Erin Fuchs, Grace Wyler, and former and current other Business Insider staff. Business Insider’s full coverage of the marathon bombings is here.
The story draws on the reporting of many journalists and stories published by other news organisations over the past two weeks. The Boston Globe, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC, and local news sources were particularly helpful. The stories we drew details from included the following:
102 Hours In Pursuit Of Marathon Suspects, by the Boston Globe staff. (This is an excellent story of the entire week.)
Clerk Helps Man Carjacked By Bombing Suspects, by Janet Wu of WHDH.
Bomb Hero Who Lost Both Legs Gave 18th Birthday Gift To Teen Wounded Alongside Him, by Hayley Peterson, Mail Online.
Watertown Boat Owner Tells Story Of Finding Boston Marathon Suspect, by Ed Harding, Newscenter 5.
Valor, Devotion Brought Watertown Drama To End, by Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe.
Lone Officer Confronted Marathon Suspects In Firefight, Chief Says, by Pete Williams, et al, NBC News.
Boston Manhunt Began With Intense Firefight In Dark Street, by Melissa Grey, CNN.
Carjacking Victim Describes Harrowing Night, by Eric Moskowitz, Boston Globe.
“Dedicated Officer” Gunned Down By Boston Suspects At MIT, by Elizabeth Chuck and Miranda Leitsinger, NBC News
Tamerlan Tsarnaev: “I Don’t Have A Single American Friend,” by David Weigel, Slate.
Turn To Religion Split Suspects’ Home, by Alan Cullison, Paul Sonne, Anton Troianovski, and David George-Cosh, Wall Street Journal.
BU Student’s Life Ends In City She Had Grown To Love, by Evan Allen, Boston Globe.
Third Victim Identified As Chinese Student Lingzi Lu, by David Knowles, New York Daily News.
Martin Richard Epitomized Spirit Of His Community, Little League, by Pete Thamel, Sports Illustrated.
Thousands Line Streets As First Bomb Victim Is Laid To Rest, by Daily Mail staff.
Krystle Campbell Was A Young Woman Everyone Seemed To Love, by David Epstein, Sports Illustrated.
Boston Bomb Victim Helped Identify Suspect, by Asjylyn Loder and Esme Deprez, Bloomberg.
Officer’s Killing Spurred Pursuit In Boston Attack, by Wendy Ruderman, Serge Kovaleski, and Michael Cooper, New York Times.
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