WATERTOWN, Mass. — Police arrested the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing here on Friday night, capping a day of intense searching that shut down daily life across a large swath of greater Boston.
Shortly after 8 p.m., police surrounded a tarp-covered boat stored behind a home in Watertown, a short distance from where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, had last been seen. Tsarnaev was thought to be wounded but alive: Witnesses reported that they could hear police calling his name, attempting to induce his surrender.
His capture seemed to surprise even investigators, who just a short time earlier had conceded that their day-long manhunt had up to that point been fruitless. Police at the scene of his arrest broke out in cheers and high-fives. Neighbors stood on their front porches, applauding, as an ambulance prepared to take the suspect to a hospital.
“We got him,” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wrote in a tweet.
The other suspect in Monday’s bombing at the marathon — Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev — died early Friday in a shootout with police. The gun battle had ended a violent overnight rampage in which the two brothers allegedly killed a campus police officer, carjacked a Mercedes and tossed explosives out the car window at pursuing police.
As the five-day manhunt for the suspects drew to a close, the FBI also confirmed that its agents in Boston had interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011 at the request of a foreign government. A law enforcment official said the request came from the Russian government, concerned about Tsarnaev’s potential ties to Chechen terrorists. But after that interview, the FBI did not follow him further, officials said.
In a few days, the Tsarnaevs had become a new lesson in the awful magnifying power of terrorism.
Two brothers, armed with low-tech bombs and no apparent escape plan, had allegedly killed four people, injured more than 170 and held one of America’s great cities in terror.
On Friday, investigators sought to determine how and why the two had allegedly turned to violence.
The Tsarnaev brothers are of Chechen heritage. Both were born in the Caucasus region, a cauldron fought over by Chechen separatists, Russian security forces, Islamist extremists and organized crime. They moved to the United States legally and lived for years in the Boston area, where their father, Anzor, was an auto mechanic.
In the past, both men had embraced American passions, according to friends and neighbors. Tamerlan was an accomplished boxer, with a wife and child. Dzhokhar was a wrestler at the public high school in Cambridge, Mass. and went on to attend the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.
On Thursday evening, authorities released photos of two men spotted carrying backpacks near the marathon’s finish line. These were apparently the Tsarnaevs, though authorities did not say that at the time — and, perhaps, did not know it at all.
Their targets, it turned out, had not fled the city or the country. A few hours later, they began a violent spree just across the Charles River in Cambridge.
At about 10:30 p.m., authorities said, the two shot and killed MIT police officer Sean Collier, 26, as Collier sat in his cruiser. It was unclear what triggered that shooting: authorities said surveillance video appears to show the two approaching Collier and killing him without warning.
After that, the men allegedly carjacked a Mercedes sport utility vehicle and took the driver with them. At least one brother told the carjacked driver that they were the marathon bombers, officials said. They forced the driver to stop at several bank machines, and took $800 that he withdrew. After a few minutes, the man was left behind at a gas station, unharmed. It was unclear whether he escaped or was let go.
From there, the brothers drove about three miles, throwing explosives out the window at police. In Watertown, they engaged in a shootout with police, in which at least 200 rounds were fired.
Authorities said that Tamarlan Tsarnaev left the car at one point and attempted to throw an explosive at officers. The device, however, went off in his hand. Police then tackled the wounded suspect in the street. Then, authorities said, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — still behind the wheel of a car, swerved at the officers in an effort to hit them.
The officers dodged. Tamerlan did not. He was dragged under the car, and later died at a Boston hospital. In the same confrontation, a Boston Transit police officer was also shot and wounded. Officials later identified the officer as Richard Donahue, 33, who was treated at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge and released.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escaped. Police later conceded that there were not enough officers to establish a perimeter. The teenager was believed to have fled on foot: Police found a small blood trail, indicating he was injured.
Then he vanished.
Starting after midnight Friday, an army of police officers and federal investigators began fanning out to look for him. SWAT teams from as far away as Cape Cod and New Hampshire rolled through the streets in armored cars, as police carefully searched house to house in Watertown.
While they looked, authorities issued a massive order to stay at home. It covered the entire city of Boston, plus the suburban towns of Belmont, Brookline, Cambridge, Newton, Waltham and Watertown.
“This situation is grave. We are here to protect public safety,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said Friday morning, as the extraordinary lockdown was put in place. “We believe this to be a terrorist. We believe this to be a man here to kill people.”
As the afternoon wore on, authorities closed down the suspects’ street and searched their home. President Barack Obama was briefed. The Tsarnaev brothers’ relatives appeared one after another on cable TV, with one uncle denouncing the two as “losers.”
In Boston, a few people began to defy orders, and come out in the streets. As night fell, the governor said that everyone could do that — but with the frightening knowledge that an alleged killer and bombmaker was out there, too.
“We can return to living our lives,” Gov. Deval Patrick said.
While authorities looked for Tsarnaev, another phase of the investigation was already under way. In Washington and elsewhere, investigators interviewed family members, and searched for travel records, financial documents and for the brothers’ traces on Internet.
The brothers’ alleged motive was not immediately clear. The Tsarnaevs, like many ethnic Chechens, are Muslim. In the past several months, Tamerlan Tsarnaev had posted videos to YouTube indicating his interest in radical Islamist ideologies.
Another question: Did the men have help, either from within the United States or abroad? While militant Chechen groups have been blamed for terrorist attacks in the past, their target has usually been Russia, a bitter foe from the Caucusus wars.
On Friday, U.S. authorities said they had no proof that anybody beyond the two Tsarnaev brothers was involved in the marathon attacks. But they were not done looking.