© The Associated Press/Charles Krupa
By Steve Peoples And Jay Lindsay
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BOSTON — They gathered in silence on Boylston Street, just three blocks away from the chaos and carnage caused by twin bombings four days earlier. Some were crying.
Boston University student Aaron Wengertsman, 19, wrapped himself in an American flag. He was on the marathon route a mile from the finish line when the bombs exploded.
“I’m glad they caught him alive,” he said of one of two brothers authorities say were responsible for the explosions. “I thought people might be more excited, but it’s humbling to see all these people paying their respects.”
As Wengertsman and dozens of others held a solemn commemoration Friday night for the victims of the blasts, others took to the streets of Boston and beyond to celebrate the capture of the surviving suspect following a manhunt that left the city largely paralyzed.
In Boston’s Dorchester neighbourhood, where an 8-year-old boy killed in the bombing lived, people set off fireworks.
Boston University juniors Brendan Hathaway and Sam Howes gave high fives to strangers as they walked down the street bathed in the flashing lights from Kenmore Square’s iconic rooftop Citgo sign.
“This was like our first opportunity to really be outside without feeling like there imminent danger,” said Hathaway, a mechanical engineering student from nearby Newton. “It was close to home for me.”
At Boston Common, Beth Lloyd-Jones said it felt like she had her city back. She was blocks away from the blast on Monday in her south end home.
“It’s personal,” she said, noting that she’s planning her wedding for the public library building adjacent to where the bombs exploded.
“That could have been any one of us,” she said of the victims. “Now I feel a little safer.”
The surviving suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was taken to a hospital after engaging in a firefight with police while hiding out in a parked boat in a Watertown backyard. Earlier in the day, his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had been killed in a gunbattle and car chase during which he and his younger brother hurled explosives at police from a stolen car, authorities said. During the getaway attempt, the brothers killed an MIT policeman and severely wounded another officer, authorities said.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this would result in a shootout in Watertown,” said Sheamus McGovern, of neighbouring Belmont.
Less than 24 hours after the shootout, police officers and firefighters stood grim-faced with guns and rifles, lining the street leading to the property about a mile away where the younger brother was believed to be holed up in the boat.
Reporters and spectators lined up on the other side. The mood was tense, with the few neighbours who ventured out hugging and crying as they heard bangs. Others merely looked on curiously.
Then, one officer slowly started clapping. Then it spread to the crowd. Then loud cheers broke out.
People in the crowd started asking, “Is he alive?” One of the officers nodded, yes. Any time a first responder emerged from the street, there was loud applause.
“They finally caught the jerk,” said nurse Cindy Boyle, 41. “It was scary; it was tense.” She said she knew when police started clapping that everything would be all right.
In Boston, celebratory bells rang from a church tower after the capture. Teenagers waved American flags in the centre of town. Every car that drove by honked. Every time an emergency vehicle went by, people cheered loudly.
Liz Rogers, a 65-year-old attorney, took one of the pieces of yellow police tape and tied it around her neck like a necklace.
“When you see your town invaded like this, it’s stunning,” she said. “Everyone in Watertown is just so grateful that he’s caught and that we’re liberated.”
The jubilation was widespread. The mayor of Boston tweeted, “We got him!” And at the home of the New York Mets, spectators leapt to their feet and cheered when the news spread during a game against the Washington Nationals.
Hundreds of people marched down Commonwealth Avenue, chanting “USA” and singing the Red Sox anthem “Sweet Caroline” as they headed toward Boston Common. Police blocked traffic along part of the street to allow for the impromptu parade.
“I can finally sleep tonight,” said 27-year-old Lisa Mara, standing along Boylston Street, just a few blocks from her home.
By Meghan McCabe
People across North America and Europe have been glued to their TVs or smart devices following the manhunt for the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect.
Mitch Crotty, from Conception Bay South, can look outside his hotel room window to see some of the same scenes as on the screens.
Crotty and his friend, Lyndon Barron, are spending Friday under lockdown in the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge, Mass.
“There’s police kinda coming in and out of everywhere. They’re coming into the hotel asking questions. I’m just looking out the window now and there are three officers in full gear just outside the mall across the street,” says Crotty.
“It’s like a ghost town here. The streets are literally empty, just the police and unmarked SUVs going up the street every now and then.
“There are helicopters just hovering, trying to keep an eye on everything.”
Crotty says he’s doing as well as he can, just trying to stay positive and taking in what’s happening.
“It’s surreal. I mean at home, the biggest police vehicle I’ve seen is the paddy wagon down on George Street. And here they’ve got these massive hummers with soldiers hanging off them. It’s like a war zone.”
Crotty and Barron were minutes away from the spot at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where a campus police officer was shot and killed by one of the suspects on Thursday night.
“All we knew was that there was a shooting on the grounds … obviously you just wanna get back to the hotel. So we came back here, turned on the news and sure enough the shooting was not 20 minutes from where we were walking,” says Crotty.
“We just seen a bunch of panic … and then everyone was kinda panicking thinking Boston was under siege.”
Crotty and Barron arrived in the city on Thursday morning.
“Yeah people were asking why we were going down now, but I just thought the ordeal was kinda calmed down and stuff.
People were acting normal, there was just a heavy military presence — every street corner had police with machine guns, there were bomb squad teams, police dogs, y’know things I’d only seen on TV.”
“When you see it on TV you’re just sorta happy that you’re not there and you’re home in Newfoundland.”
Crotty and Barron had tickets for a couple of NHL games and a baseball game this weekend, so they figured they would go ahead with their plans.
Until those plans had to change.
“When we woke up this morning we realized that the city was shut down,” says Crotty.
Early Friday morning Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said that all forms of transit were stopped and everyone in the area must stay inside, only opening their doors to uniformed officers.
Overnight Thursday the police chased the two suspects, who have been labelled terrorists and identified as brothers Dzokhar Tsarnaev, 19 and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, into the Boston suburb of Watertown.
Originally from the Russian area of Chechnya, their uncle has said the brothers had been in the U.S. for years.
Chechnya has been known for Islamic militant attacks within Russia since it tried to become independent in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed.
The suspects reportedly carjacked a vehicle Thursday night, throwing grenades out the windows and shooting at police.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was confirmed to be killed in the shootout by the police, but as of press time authorities were still combing the Boston area for Dzokhar, who is believed to be heavily armed.
“They’re running off leads,” says Crotty.
“There’s controlled explosions scheduled on Norfolk Street, so I guess this guy, he was planning on going down in flames. He’s got a house all wired up for explosions, a vehicle wired up for explosions,” Crotty says based on the information he’s heard in Boston.
On Friday afternoon Crotty and Barron, like everyone else, are just hoping they apprehend the suspect soon.
The hockey and baseball games have been cancelled.
“We’re just sitting and waiting, keeping our fingers crossed. Not much else they can do, I mean they’ve got every resource on catching this guy.
I’m really glad I live in Newfoundland. This don’t happen in C.B.S., that’s for sure.”
— With files from The Canadian Press