• Dzhokhar Tsarnaev taken into custody after police standoff
• Suspect, 19, found hiding in boat in Watertown backyard
• Obama: 'Our nation is in debt to the people of Massachusetts'
The 22-hour manhunt for the surviving Boston bombing suspect reached a dramatic and surprising conclusion on Friday night when 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured alive after being surrounded by heavily armed police in a suburban backyard.
Tsarnaev was found hiding in a boat in the yard of a home in Watertown, the small town where his elder brother Tamerlan was fatally shot by police after a chase which began on Thursday night. The pair had been identified as suspects in Monday's double bomb attack on the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured more than 170.
For about two hours, Tsarnaev had been surrounded by Swat teams and hundreds of other officers, surviving a barrage of gunfire and flash grenades. At 8.41pm, it was finally announced over the police radio: "Suspect in custody".
The suspect was injured in Thursday's shootout and had suffered significant blood loss. Police said he was in a serious condition in hospital on Friday night.
When the news came through that Tsarnaev captured alive, Thomas Menino, the mayor of Boston who has been a stalwart throughout the week despite struggling with his own health issues, reacted by saying: "We got him." A large crowd gathered near the location of the suspect's arrest began clapping and shouting "Thank you" as a police ambulance carrying the suspect drove by.
At a jubilant press conference after the arrest, the sense of relief among law enforcement officials was palpable.
Massachusetts police colonel Tim Alben said: "We are so grateful to bring justice and closure to this case. We are grateful for the outcome here tonight. We're exhausted, folks, but we have a victory here tonight."
Explaining the breakthrough that had led to Tsarnaev's capture, Edward Deveau, the Watertown police chief, praised local residents. "It was a call from a resident of Watertown," he said. "We asked you to remain vigilant and you did. We got the call and we got the guy."
In a statement at the White House, President Obama said: "Tonight our nation is in debt to the people of Boston and the people of Massachusetts. All in all, it's been a tough week, but we've seen the character of our country once more."
But he said there were many unanswered questions. "Why did young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities and our country resort to this violence?"
Shortly before the arrest, police in New Bedford, Massachusetts, confirmed that the FBI had taken three people into custody for questioning at a housing complex where Tsarnaev, a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, may have lived.
Tsarnaev's apprehension brings to an end five days of high anxiety that began at 2.50pm on Monday, with the blasts, 12 seconds apart, near the finish line of the marathon. The FBI say the brothers had dropped bags containing bombs made from pressure cookers packed with nails and ball bearings.
More than a million residents of Boston and the surrounding towns had been told to stay inside their homes for most of Friday as hundreds of law enforcement officers went door to door in Watertown searching for Tsarnaev. He had managed to flee Thursday's shootout on foot.
The final flurry of frenzied police activity began shortly before 7pm on Friday, just minutes after police chiefs had come before the TV cameras and told the residents of Watertown that they were ending the citywide lockdown, despite admitting that they had lost track of the suspect.
A renewed bout of gunfire of about 30 rounds ripped through Watertown as Swat teams and dozens of police vehicles raced to the area of Birch Road, a leafy street with about 14 houses in it. Police immediately ordered people in Watertown to stay indoors, while officers evacuated nearby households, helping families flee across an adjacent field.
A resident of Watertown had called police to report he had found a man covered in blood hiding in the boat standing in the yard of a house in Birch Road. Officers exchanged gunfire with the suspect as they surrounded the boat. There was no chance this time that the suspect could escape.
It is now believed that Tsarnaev may have been holed up in the boat all day, eluding the door-to-door search that was going on elsewhere. Birch Road is just a couple of blocks outside the 20-block exclusion zone that the police had set up early on Friday in an attempt to contain the suspect.
Amid fears that Tsarnaev may have been wearing a suicide vest or carrying explosives, officers were extremely cautious about moving in. As darkness fell, the barrage of forces ringed around the boat was reinforced by specialist FBI squads dressed in full military gear, wearing protective helmets and vests and equipped with nightvision goggles. Bomb disposal experts, equipped with a robot, were also brought in.
Police used a helicopter to monitor the boat from overhead, reporting early in the operation that there was visible movement coming from underneath the tarp, suggesting that Tsarnaev was at that point still alive. Minutes before 8pm there were flashes of light and booms thought to be grenades thrown into the board.
Around 150 people had gathered at the end of Franklin Street to watch the police operation. Most were neighbours who lived within one or two blocks. Many had waited here for an hour or more after hearing police had the second suspect cornered.
The first sign that Tsarnaev might have been taken into custody or subdued came when a uniformed officer walked away from the top of Franklin and vigorously clapped the hand of a fellow official. He looked down at the ground and clapped his hands two or three times.
The crowd read the signal and broke out into applause, cheering. "Did you get him?" one man shouted. An officer nodded his head. The cheers intensified.
"It feels great," said Bill Forbush. He lives two blocks away from where Tsarnaev was apprehended. He and his wife, Ann, had been standing on the corner for an hour and a half. They had heard the first gunshots, and heard the sounds of what reportedly were flash bang grenades. They had also spent 20 hours indoors while the town was locked down.
"It's nice to be out in the spring air and be relieved," Bill Forbush said. "There's a great sense of relief."
As he spoke police vehicles and officers began to stream out of Franklin Street. Each vehicle and each official was cheered. "Great job, you guys," shouted one man, over and over.
Tsarnaev had proved to be exceptionally adept in eluding the combined forces of some of the most highly trained and heavily armed law enforcement agencies in America. By that point he had managed to evade capture for more than four days.
The drama began around 10.30pm on Thursday night when the two brothers, of Chechen origin, ambushed a police officer, Sean Collier, 26, on the campus of MIT. They then carjacked a black Mercedes, sparking a car chase with police that ended with the huge gunfight in Watertown in which pipe bombs and other explosive devices were thrown by the suspects.
Tom McCarthy, Paul Owen, Warren Murray, Matthew Weaver 20 Apr, 2013
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