Police captured a 19-year-old man suspected of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings with his older brother after a day-long manhunt on Friday that closed down the city and turned a working-class suburb into a virtual armed camp.
The break in the case sent waves of relief through the Boston suburb of Watertown where armoured vehicles roamed the streets and helicopters flew overhead through the day.
Residents and police officers cheered and clapped when the suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was caught after an exchange of gunfire with police.
A Massachusetts State Police spokesman said Tsarnaev was bleeding and in serious condition in a hospital. He had been hiding in the stern of a boat parked in the backyard of a house in Watertown, police said. A resident called police after seeing blood on the boat.
President Barack Obama told reporters at the White House after the suspect’s capture that questions remained from the bombings, including whether the two suspects received any help.
The Boston Police Department said in a message on Twitter: “CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.”
Boston Mayor Tom Menino said, “we got him” on Twitter.
Tsarnaev is one of two brothers believed to have set off bombs made in pressure cookers and packed with ball bearings and nails at the finish line of the world-famous event, killing three people and injuring 176.
The older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed on Thursday night in a shootout with police less than a mile from where Friday night’s capture took place.
“We are so grateful to bring justice and closure to this case,” Massachusetts State Police Chief Colonel Timothy Alben told a news conference. “We are exhausted folks, but we had a victory here tonight.”
Monday’s bombing have been described by Obama as “an act of terrorism.” It was the worst such attack on U.S. soil since the plane hijackings of September 11, 2001, and set nerves on edge across the United States with a series of security scares.
Police cars and armored vehicles surrounded the house on Friday night shortly after police told a news conference that the suspect fled on foot and was still on the loose. After the capture of Tsarnaev, authorities said the investigation was still open.
Police in New Bedford, Massachusetts, 60 miles (96 km) south of Boston said three other people had been taken into custody for questioning about Monday’s bombings. No other details were provided.
Earlier on Friday, Alben said that officers went door-to-door in Watertown and searched houses. During the search for the men on Friday, two Black Hawk helicopters circled the area. SWAT teams moved through in formation, leaving an officer behind to ensure that searched homes remained secure, a law enforcement official said.
The normally traffic-clogged streets of Boston were empty on Friday as the city went into lockdown during the manhunt. Public transportation had been suspended and air space restricted. Famous universities, including Harvard and MIT, closed after police ordered residents to remain at home.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said late on Friday afternoon the “stay-in-place” order for Boston had been lifted and mass transit reopened.
The brothers had not previously been on the radar as possible militants, U.S. government officials said. But the FBI in 2011 interviewed the older of the two brothers, acting at the request of an unidentified foreign government, a U.S. law enforcement source said. The matter was closed when it did not produce any derogatory information, according to the source, who declined to be identified.
Some details emerged on Friday about the brothers, including their origins in the predominantly Muslim regions of Russia’s Caucasus, which have experienced two decades of violence since the fall of the Soviet Union.
The younger brother described himself on a social network as a minority from a region that includes Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia.
A man who told reporters he was an uncle of the brothers said they came to the United States in the early 2000s and settled in the Cambridge, Massachusetts, area.
Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in suburban Washington and has not spoken to the brothers since 2009, said the bombings “put a shame on our family. It put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity.
In separate interviews, the parents of the Tsarnaev brothers said they believed their sons were incapable of carrying out the bombings. Others remembered the brothers as friendly and respectful youths who never stood out or caused alarm.
“Somebody clearly framed them. I don’t know who exactly framed them, but they did. They framed them. And they were so cowardly that they shot the boy dead,” father Anzor Tsarnaev said in an interview with Reuters in Dagestan’s provincial capital, Makhachkala, clasping his head in despair.
The FBI said the twin blasts were caused by bombs in pressure cookers and carried in backpacks that were left near the marathon finish line as thousands of spectators gathered.
The mother, Zubeidat Tsaraeva, speaking in English, told CNN, “It’s impossible, impossible, for both of them to do such things, so I am really, really, really telling that this is a setup.”
The bombings elicited a response from Moscow condemning terrorism and from the Russian-installed leader of Chechnya, who criticized police in Boston for killing an ethnic Chechen and blamed the violence on his upbringing in the United States.
“They grew up and studied in the United States and their attitudes and beliefs were formed there,” Ramzan Kadyrov said in comments posted online. “Any attempt to make a connection between Chechnya and the Tsarnaevs is in vain.
The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the biggest mosque in the area, said in a statement that “after the terrible and sad events of last night, the criminal of the bombings on the loose” it was shutting its doors until further notice.