Relief in Boston as bombing suspect remains in hospital

Residents of Boston are breathing a sigh of relief as a special task force of federal investigators waits to question its prime suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who remains in hospital in "serious" condition with bullet wounds to his neck and leg.

Police captured 19-year-old suspect following day-long city-wide manhunt

Crisis ends, Boston celebrates

9 years ago
With the arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, residents of Boston feel relieved and grateful, CBC's David Common reports 5:27


  • Police say Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is in custody
  • Tsarnaev had been hiding in boat in Boston suburb, police say
  • Tsarnaev in "serious condition" in hospital

Residents of Boston are breathing a sigh of relief as a special task force of federal investigators waits to question its prime suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who remains in hospital in "serious" condition with bullet wounds to his neck and leg.

Even though Massachusetts does not have the death penalty, officials have said if Dzhokhar is found guilty, he could be executed. If federal investigators take over the case and charge Dzhokhar with federal offences, then he could face the death penalty.

Dzhokhar remains at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre under high security watch. He arrived there Friday night after an FBI special team removed him from a backyard in the Boston suburb of Watertown, where he was hiding inside a boat.

When Dzhokhar is aware and able to answer questions, a specialty team will interrogate him, former FBI agent Jack Cloonan told CBC News. The team will be made up of specially-trained FBI behavioural science experts, representatives from the Department of Defence and CIA officials.

No Miranda rights in upcoming interrogation

A U.S. Justice Department official, speaking with the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the suspect will not be read his Miranda rights because the government is invoking a public-safety exception.

The public-safety exception is triggered when police officers believe there is immediate danger to them or the public.

The American Civil Liberties Union released a statement denouncing this action, saying the public safety exception "is not an open-ended exception to the Miranda rule." The union said all criminals have the right to see a judge and access counsel.

"Denial of rights is un-American and will only make it harder to obtain fair convictions."

The federal public defender's office in Massachusetts said it has agreed to represent Tsarnaev once he is charged. Miriam Conrad, public defender for Massachusetts, said he should have a lawyer appointed as soon as possible because there are "serious issues regarding possible interrogation."

The so-called public-safety exception only lasts about 36 hours.

"Make no mistake, that doesn’t last forever," said Cloonan.

Despite the time restraints, officials will not go in heavy handed, he said. They understand he is the only person who can answer the broader questions — such as whether anyone else is involved, or if the operation was directed from overseas — and will try to establish rapport with Dzhokhar, who may be having second thoughts about his alleged actions or overwhelmed with guilt.

"It's time for patience. It's time for professionalism," said Cloonan. "This is not something out of CSI New York or NCIS. This is real life … and time is on our side now."

Radical views revealed

While little remains known about Dzhokhar's views, it appears his older brother and alleged co-conspirator Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, may have turned to radical Islam about two or three years ago.

Luis Vasquez, who attended high school with Tamerlan, told CBC News his classmate was "a big, friendly giant." But he expressed concern over his friend's disappearance from social life over the past several years, saying many people just assumed Tamerlan had returned to his birth country.

"I want to know what happened in those two years … that we didn’t see each other. Who was in his ear?" said Vasquez. "I’m glad that [Dzhokhar] was pulled out alive because we deserve answers."

The boys' uncle, who had been estranged from the family for some time, said he grew concerned about Tamerlan after a 2009 phone conversation in which Tamerlan said he had chosen "God's business" over work or school. Ruslan Tsarni said he then contacted a family friend who told him Tsarnaev had been influenced by a recent convert to Islam. Tsarni said the two hadn't spoken since that call.

Tamerlan, FBI crossed paths before

The FBI had also investigated Tamerlan prior to the bombings.

The Russian FSB intelligence security service told the FBI in early 2011 about information that Tamerlan was a follower of radical Islam, two law enforcement officials said Saturday.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, hiding in a boat in a backyard in the Boston suburb of Watertown. Tsarnaev is suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings. (Massachusetts State Police/Twitter)

According to an FBI news release issued Friday night, a foreign government said that based on its information, Tsarnaev was a strong believer and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the U.S. for travel to a region in that country to join unspecified underground groups.

The FBI did not name the foreign government, but the two law enforcement officials identified the FSB as the provider of the information to one of the FBI's field offices and also to FBI headquarters in Washington. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the matter.

The FBI said that in response, it interviewed Tamerlan and relatives, and did not find any domestic or foreign terrorism activity.

Tamerlan apparently visited his father for six months in Russia's Republic of Dagestan last year.

Tamerlan died after he and his brother engaged police in a gunfight.

Day-long manhunt

Police then captured Dzhokhar after a day-long manhunt, which saw all of Boston shut down after police issued a stay-indoors order for everyone in the city.

Early Friday evening, police progress looked grim. After hours of door-to-door searching within the Boston suburb of Watertown, police had little to report at a 6 p.m. news conference. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick lifted the lockdown that had been in place since early Friday, as Boston's streets mimicked a ghost town.

Police implemented the stay-in-doors order after Dzhokhar and an alleged accomplice, his  brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26,engaged police in a gunfight and car chase. The men hurled explosives at police from a stolen car, authorities said.

During the getaway attempt, the brothers are suspected of killing an MIT policeman and severely wounded another officer. Tamerlan died in hospital from injuries sustained during the attack.

Dzhokhar, 19, managed to flee on foot, leaving police to prowl Watertown's streets for him.

"We cannot continue to lock down an entire city or an entire state," said Timothy Alben, the superintendent of the Massachusetts state police, at a news conference announcing the stay-in-doors order was being lifted.

Tip leads police to suspect

At some point around the time of Alben's announcement, a Watertown resident stepped out of his house after having followed the lockdown orders all day. He happened to notice blood on a boat he stored behind his house. He approached the boat, hoisted off the ground by bricks, and lifted the tarp. Inside, he saw a man covered in blood, said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.

The man returned to his house and called police.

During the day's search, police found blood in a place they suspect Dzhokhar may have stayed for some of the night, CNN reported Davis as saying.

At some point, Dzhokhar moved just under a kilometre away, hiding in the backyard, which was just outside the original search perimeter. That's why police didn't find him there during the initial search, Davis said.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, left, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, was captured Friday night. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, also a suspect in the bombing, died during a shootout with police eary Friday morning. (Robin Young/The Lowell Sun/AP)

Around 6 p.m. ET, police knocked on Dumitru Ciuc's door — just two houses down from the tipster's residence — he told CBC News. Police ordered Ciuc and his wife to evacuate their home.

"We went up the street and one of the officers told us to go into a driveway off the street," Ciuc said.

As he left, snipers staked out positions inside his home, which provided a good view into the backyard where police believed Dzhokhar may be hiding. When he got to the driveway, Ciuc said, he heard gunshots.

FBI rescue team steps in

After the operation, Davis told reporters that police, gathering in armoured vehicles and tactical gear around the area, had set up a perimeter around the boat. Over the next hour or so, "we exchanged gunfire with the suspect who was inside the boat," he said.

Eventually, an FBI hostage rescue team stepped in. They tried to talk Dzhokhar out of the boat, but he was not communicative.

The FBI says Dzhokar Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, is now in custody. He was captured in the Boston suburb of Watertown. His brother, Tamerlan was killed during a firefight nearby. (FBI)

The rescue team finally removed the suspect from the boat.

Dzhokhar was taken to a hospital in "serious condition," Davis said. It was unclear at what point during his time as a fugitive Dzhokhar was injured. Davis said it could have been during the night's gunfire or the night before, when Dzhokhar and Tamerlan engaged in gunfire with police.

Police announced via Twitter that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was in custody. They later wrote, "CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody."

The crowd that gathered near the scene let out a cheer when spectators saw officers clapping after he was detained, about  two hours after the standoff began.

With files from The Associated Press