April 21, 2013

Five days of fear in Boston

On Friday night, Bostonians could applaud law enforcement that put terror on the run.

By ADAM GELLER The Associated Press

In the tight rows of chairs in the Commonwealth Ballroom, the nervousness -- already dialed high by two bombs, three deaths and more than 72 hours without answers -- ratcheted even higher.

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Upon noticing that the tarp on his boat was askew, a Watertown man found the wounded Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding below. Police used thermal detection to verify his presence, and he was arrested after a standoff marked by more gunfire.

Massachusetts Police Department

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Mary O’Kane, 85, plays patriotic tunes at the Arlington Street Church in Boston on Thursday, three days after two bombs caused chaos and carnage at the Boston Marathon.

The Associated Press

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For complete coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and manhunt, click here.

The minutes ticked by as investigators stepped out to delay the news conference twice. Finally, at 5:10 p.m. Thursday, a pair of FBI agents carried in two easels and saddled them with display boards, turning the boards backward so as not to divulge the results of their sleuthing just yet.

Now the time had come to take that critical, but perilous step: Introducing Boston to the two men believed responsible for an entire city's terror.

"Somebody out there knows these individuals as friends, neighbors, co-workers or family members of the suspects," said Richard DesLauriers, the FBI agent in charge in Boston. As he spoke, investigators flipped the boards to reveal surveillance-camera images of two men in ball caps.

News cameras pushed forward. Across the city, and across the country, so many people logged on to examine the faces of the men deemed responsible for the bombing attack of the Boston Marathon, that the FBI servers were instantly overwhelmed.

At the least, Bostonians told each other, the photos proved that the monsters the city had imagined were responsible for maiming more than 170 were ordinary men. But even as that relief sank in, the dread that had gripped the city since Monday at 2:50 p.m. was renewed.

If everyone had seen these photos, then that had to mean the suspects had seen them, too.

What desperation might they resort to, marathoner Meredith Saillant asked herself, once they were confronted with the certainty that their hours of anonymity were running out?

On the morning after the marathon, Saillant had fled the city for Vermont, trying to escape nightmares of the bombs that had detonated on the sidewalk just below the room where she'd been celebrating her 3:38 finish. Now, on a smartphone she scrutinized the men's photos.

"I expected that I would feel relief, 'OK, now I can put a face to it,' and start some closure," Saillant says. "But I think I felt more doom. I felt, I don't know, chilled. Knowing where we are and the era in which we live, I knew that as soon as those pictures went up that it was over, that something was going to happen ... like it was the beginning of the end."

There was no way she or the people of Boston could know, though, just when that end would come -- or how.

A FRIGHTFUL FINISH

Marathon Monday dawned with an April chill, ideal for keeping a body cool over 26.2 miles. By the four-hour mark, more than two-thirds of the field's 23,000 runners had crossed the finish line.

Passing the 25-mile mark, Diane Jones-Bolton, 51, of Nashville, Tenn., picked up the pace, relishing the sense of accomplishment of her 195th marathon.

Near the finish line, Brighid Wall of Duxbury, Mass., stood to watch the race with her husband and children.

In the post-race chute Tracy Eaves, from Niles, Mich., proudly claimed her medal and a Mylar blanket, and took a swig of Gatorade.

But the blast brought the celebration crashing down.

"Everyone sort of froze," Wall said. "The first explosion was far enough away that we only saw smoke." Then the second bomb exploded, this time just 10 feet away.

"My husband threw our kids to the ground and lay on top of them," Wall said. "A man lay on top of us and said, 'Don't get up! Don't get up!'"

From her spot beyond the finish, a "huge shaking boom" washed over Eaves.

(Continued on page 2)

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