Boston Marathon bomb suspect eludes police as darkness falls

WATERTOWN, Massachusetts Sat Apr 20, 2013 12:56am BST

1 of 11. Police SWAT team members run towards a police assault on a house as gunfire erupts on Franklin Street during the search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, in Watertown, Massachusetts April 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Bourg

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WATERTOWN, Massachusetts (Reuters) - An ethnic Chechen suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings remained at large on Friday as heavily armed police and Black Hawk helicopters scoured a Boston suburb in a day-long manhunt that virtually shut down the city.

Shortly after police told a news conference the suspect was still on the loose, a Reuters witness saw dozens of police and armoured vehicles converging on a street in the Boston suburb of Watertown, and heard gunfire erupt.

"We do not have an apprehension of our suspect this afternoon," Colonel Timothy Alben told the news conference, but added, "We remain committed to this."

Officials identified the fugitive as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, whose older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, whom the FBI also identified on Thursday as being involved in Monday's bombings, was shot to death overnight by police in a shootout. The surviving suspect escaped on foot.

Alben said officers went door-to-door in the Boston suburb of Watertown and searched houses. Officials followed a number of leads that were not fruitful and there was "much work to be done" he said.

Authorities cordoned off a section of Watertown and told residents not to leave their homes or answer the door as officers in combat gear scoured a 20-block area. Two Black Hawk helicopters circled the area. SWAT teams moved through in formation, leaving an officer behind to ensure that searched homes remain secure, a law enforcement official said.

The normally traffic-clogged streets of Boston were empty on Friday as the city went into lockdown after a bloody night of shooting and explosions. 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 the "stay-in-place" order for Boston had been lifted and mass transit reopened as police pressed their search for Tsarnaev.

Monday's bombing on the finish line of the world-famous Boston Marathon, which killed three people and injured 176, was described by President Barack Obama as "an act of terrorism." It was the worst such attack on U.S. soil since the plane hijackings of September 11, 2001.

U.S. government suspects said the men had not previously been on the radar as possible militants.

Authorities cordoned off a section of Watertown and told residents not to leave their homes or answer the door as officers in combat gear scoured a 20-block area. Two Black Hawk helicopters circled the area. SWAT teams moved through in formation, leaving an officer behind to ensure that searched homes remain secure, a law enforcement official said.

'SHAME ON OUR FAMILY'

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 fugitive 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 said he had not spoken to the brothers since 2009, called 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."

(Additional reporting by Stephanie Simon, Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Mark Hosenball, Alex Dobuzinskis, David Bailey, Peter Graff, Aaron Pressman, Daniel Lovering, Ben Berkowitz, Emily Flitter; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Peter Cooney)

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Comments (10)
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
None of which really casts light as to the motivation towards bombing the 2013 Boston Marathon.

They appear to have been radicalised,(if the motivation is indeed religious rather than political) within America.

Apr 19, 2013 6:25pm BST  --  Report as abuse
ultimate wrote:
A complete lockdown of an entire city with everybody advised to stay indoors!!!,typical American drama queen overkill,and they clearly haven’t paid consideration to the conspiracy theory brigade,whos minds will be working overtime on what the authorities have been up to out there during this curfew.I’ll await the theories.

Apr 19, 2013 6:59pm BST  --  Report as abuse
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
This is looking real bad… Big picture wise… Real bad!

Apr 19, 2013 9:13pm BST  --  Report as abuse
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