FBI waiting to question injured Boston bombings suspect

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev found bloodied and holed up in a tarpaulin-covered boat parked in back garden of Watertown house

Sat, Apr 20, 2013, 17:33

Bostonians breathed a sign of relief after a long, shattering week and then celebrated the dramatic capture of the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect early this morning.

Impromptu festivities broke out across the city as Chechen-American Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (19) was found bloodied and holed up in a boat parked in the back garden of a house in a suburb of a city.

The second suspect in Monday's bombings was taken into custody, drawing to a close one of the most unprecedented manhunts in US police history. He remains seriously ill in hospital under heavy guard, with police waiting to question him about his motives.

A spokeswoman for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston confirmed today Tsarnaev was being treated there, but declined to comment on his condition. The FBI would be providing any updates, she said. It was not yet clear when he would face initial charges .

The search turned the Massachusetts capital into a ghost town yesterday as people were told to remain indoors as police feared further attacks by an armed and dangerous fugitive.

Boston police announced the arrest on the social media website Twitter, saying: "CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody."

"We got him," said Boston's mayor Tom Menino, also on Twitter.

At about 8pm (1am Irish time) crowds cheered as an ambulance drove the injured 19-year-old bombing suspect away to hospital from the scene of his capture in the suburb of Watertown near where his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev (26) was gunned down by police the night before.

"We've closed an important chapter in this tragedy," said US president Barack Obama in a televised address.

Capture celebrated

Teenagers waved American flags, people cheered and motorists honked car horns across the city celebrated the capture of the remaining suspect in the bombings that killed three and injured more than 170 on Monday.

Hundreds of people marched down Commonwealth Avenue, a wide thoroughfare near the scene of the bombings, chanting "USA" and singing Sweet Caroline, the anthem of the local baseball team, the Red Sox.

New York Mets fans cheered when it was announced during a game against the Washington Nationals that one of the men responsible for the worst attacks on US soil since 2001 had been apprehended.

In Boston's Irish-American neighbourhood of Dorchester, where the eight-year-old bombing victim Martin Richard lived, residents set off fireworks last night to celebrate the capture of the suspected bomber.

The capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev - who with his brother Tamerlan are alleged to be responsible for Monday's bombings - came less than 24 hours after a car chase and gun battle with police that ended in his brother's death and one of America's biggest manhunts.

In a frenzy of violence starting on Thursday night, the brothers killed a campus police officer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, critically wounded a transit police officer, and then threw explosives and fired bullets at police in a car chase across two Boston suburbs.

Then, late last night, just minutes after police said their house-to-house, block-by-block search of Watertown over the day had left them empty-handed, heavily armed police officers tracked down the college student to a back garden where he was hiding in a covered boat, carrying a wound from the previous night's firefight.

Serious condition

Tsarnaev, a student at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, was in a serious condition when he was taken into custody, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told a news conference.

The manhunt had led to a virtual lock-down of Boston as hundreds of thousands of people were told to stay inside and lock their doors while the bombing suspect remained at large.

Police were alerted to his whereabouts by a Watertown resident after the order shutting down the city was lifted. The man saw blood on the boat and when he lifted the tarp covering, he saw a man covered in blood.

Less than 24 hours after a night of car chases, gunfire barrages and explosions, there were further bursts of gunfire as scores of police moved in to corner the wounded Dzhokhar.

Law enforcement agents, using a loudspeaker, called on Tsarnaev to surrender but he refused. A robot was used to pull the covering off the boat and together with a thermal imaging camera in a helicopter above, police saw how the suspect had been weakened by blood loss from the previous night's injury.

As the city returns to normal after five days of upheaval, the focus will turn to why two residents of the city perpetrated this atrocity.

Information that has emerged about the brothers showed Tamerlan to be a talented boxer and aspiring engineer while his younger brother was a promising scholar and popular among teachers and schoolmates.

Fleeing insurrection

Their parents struggled to earn money after moving to the United States from the Russian region of Dagestan and prior to that, Kyrgyzstan, after fleeing insurrection in their native Chechen. The couple eventually separated.

Despite showing promise as boxer, a competitive career eluded Tamerlan. In a newspaper interview in 2004, he showed his unease at life in America, saying that despite living in the US for five years he didn't have a single American friend. "I don't understand them," he said.

The boy's father told the Wall Street Journal that he was present when the FBI previously interviewed Tamerlan, saying the investigators visited him for what they called "prevention activities".

"They said: 'We know what sites you are on, we know where you are calling, we know everything about you. Everything," Mr Tsarnaev told the newspaper.

Tamerlan appears to have become radicalised as a Muslim in more recent times.

Standing outside the apartment block on Norfolk Street in Cambridge where the brothers lived, a neighbour, Albrecht Ammon, an 18-year-old student, said he knew Dzhokhar from the local high school and had met his older brother three times. On one occasion, they argued about religion and politics.

The 26-year-old brother had argued with him that "the Bible was a cheap copy of the Koran and in Afghanistan most casualties were innocent bystanders killed by US forces", said Mr Ammon.

In his televised address, Mr Obama said the authorities would seek to identify the reasons why the brothers perpetrated the atrocity and whether they had received any help in carrying it out.

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