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

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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.

"I turned around and saw this monstrous smoke," she said. She thought it might be part of the festivities, until the second blast and volunteers began rushing the runners from the scene.

"Then you start to panic," she said.

Back in the field, Jones-Bolton noticed runners turning around and coming back at her. Suddenly the race came to halt, but nobody could say why. When word began to spread, Jones-Bolton panicked at the thought of her husband at the finish line, but was reassured by other runners.

At the finish, Wall, her husband and children raised their heads after a minute or two of silence. Beside them, a man was kneeling, looking dazed, blood dripping from his head. A body lay nearby.

"We grabbed each other and we ran" -- into a coffee shop, out the back door into an alley, where they kept going.

Meanwhile, the instincts of Dr. Martin Levine, a Bayonne, N.J., physician who has long volunteered to attend to elite runners at the finish line, told him to do just the opposite.

"Make room for casualties -- about 40!," he yelled into the runners' relief tent. Just then the second bomb went off. He reached the site to find a landscape resembling a battlefield, littered with severed limbs.

"The people were still smoking, their skin and their clothes were burning," he said.


Now, three days after the bombing, investigators had made significant headway.

Armies of white-suited agents had sifted through the evidence littering Boylston Street. Their efforts revealed that the bombers had constructed crudely assembled weapons, using plans easily found on the Internet, from pressure cookers, wires and batteries. But investigators still did not know why -- or whom to hold responsible.

It all came down to the photos, culled from hundreds of hours of videotape and photographs gathered from surveillance cameras and spectators. But if they were unable to identify the men, that left the investigators with a difficult choice: They could keep them to law enforcement officers, prolonging the search and risking letting the men slip away or attack again. Or they could ask the public for help. But then, the suspects would know the net was closing in.

When they decided to release them, it would only put Bostonians further on edge.

But as investigators pored over tips in the hours before the photos were made public, the city, at least, was struggling to right itself.

On Thursday, President Obama spoke at an interfaith service honoring the victims, saying, "We may be momentarily knocked off our feet. But we'll pick ourselves up. We'll keep going. We will finish the race."

Less than a mile away, 85-year-old Mary O'Kane strained at the bell ropes in the steeple of Arlington Street Church, imagining the sounds spreading healing across her city -- and the land.

The city's response to the bombing had revealed its strength. But her belief in Boston was tinged with sadness. Now she understood a bit about how New Yorkers who experienced 9/11 must feel.

"We were feeling sort of immune," she said. "Now we're just a part of everybody. ... The same expectations and fears."


In the hours after investigators released the photos of the men known only as Suspect No. 1 and Suspect No. 2, the city went on about the business of a Thursday night, a semblance of normality restored except for the area immediately surrounding the blast site. "

But across the Charles River in Cambridge, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his brother Dzhokhar, 19, were busy.

Later, friends and relatives would recall both as seemingly incapable of terrorism. The brothers were part of an ethnic Chechen family that came to the U.S. in 2002, after fleeing troubles in Kyrgyzstan and then Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in Russia's North Caucasus. They settled in Cambridge, where the father, Anzor Tsarnaev, opened an auto shop.

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