WATERTOWN, Mass. -- Friday morning in the Boston area began in a tense silence, as the sprawling manhunt for an alleged teenaged terrorist forced city residents indoors for their own safety. Friday night, however, ended with spontaneous parades celebrating his capture.
As 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was pulled wounded from his backyard boat hideout and raced to Beth Israel Hospital in police custody, many Bostonians finally exhaled, after a devastating week that began with the double bombings at Monday’s Boston marathon. The suspect's brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed Friday morning in a shootout with police.
"CAPTURED!!!" trumpeted the Boston Police Department on Twitter Friday night. "The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody."
Yet authorities cautioned that the case won't end until prosecutors build a case against a man accused of killing three people at the marathon and an MIT campus police officer three days later and determine whether the brothers plotted with anyone else.
There’s also a long healing process ahead for marathon runners and spectators maimed by Monday's pressure cooker bombs -- aluminum pots laden with ball bearings and nails -- and for the Boston transit police officer wounded during Friday's chaotic spree of violence.
Despite the gruesome effectiveness of the Tsarnaev brothers' explosives, the revelers who converged Friday night on Watertown's main drag cheered when news reached them that the younger brother had been captured alive during the standoff with police.
“I’m happy they caught him. I’m happy he’s alive, [because] I want to know why,” said Watertown resident Jeannette Harvey, who works in Massachusetts General Hospital’s trauma ward. Other celebrants carried homemade signs that said, "Thank You Police," and shouted, "Boston Proud, Boston Strong" until the wee hours of Saturday morning.
Less than five hours before the parade, Tsarnaev was discovered by a multi-agency task force, hiding under a boat tarp on Franklin Street. Police said he fired at officers multiple times before he was taken into custody.
Prospects for catching Tsarnaev so quickly looked slim just a few hours earlier. Boston officials warned the public that the manhunt could drag on indefinitely, and that military-style security measures -- which shut businesses and kept millions of people at home -- could remain in place.
The patrols of heavily armed law enforcement officers had been a frightening sight for some.
“It’s pretty creepy to see bomb squads literally outside our window," said 16-year-old Aspasia Krouskas. “I hope it ends soon.”
"It’s like a ghost town,” said Juan Araniz, 69, who was home with four relatives. “Nobody’s outside.”
As the sun rises on Boston Saturday morning, Tsarnaev will be fighting for his life in the hospital. The case against him is yet to come. No longer a fugitive, he eventually will be a defendant in one of the country's most significant prosecutions.