Boston police report that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, the second suspect in Monday's Boston Marathon bombings who was sought in a manhunt that closed most of the Boston area for Thursday night into Friday, has been captured.
Around 7 p.m. EDT Friday, reports of shots fired came out of Watertown, the suburb of Boston that police had searched door-to-door all day. It was unclear if officers had found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, but TV news reports showed police and FBI troops heading toward a certain block of town.
Many local media began reporting minutes later that the suspect had been found in a covered boat stored in the backyard of a house at 67 Franklin St. in Watertown. Over the next 90 minutes or so police lined the property and sporadic pops, reported as flashbangs, or possibly gunshots, could be heard.
Crowds surrounding the scene began to applaud around 8:45 EDT at the reports that the suspect was alive and taken into custody. TV reports showed jubilant officers giving each other hugs and high-fives.
Friends and neighbors of Tsarnaev described him as a normal, social and quiet student.
The Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School graduate is suspected in Thursday’s shooting death of an MIT police officer and subsequent carjacking and gunfight with police in Watertown later that night. Tsarneav reportedly escaped police capture after he and his brother threw explosives and fired automatic weapons at officers.
Police detained his brother – Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26 – who later died in custody. ABC News reported that the suspects are believed to have had paramilitary training by the way they engaged police.
Friends described Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as “unremarkable” and “normal.” He liked to talk about sports, music and girls, said a classmate, Ty Barros, 21.
“He didn’t have any glaring characteristics,” Barros said. “He was pretty laid back.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was also a bright student, his friends said. He was awarded a $2,500 scholarship from the city of Cambridge in 2011. According to Cambridge Chronicle sources, Tsarnaev was an All-Star on the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School wrestling team. He was also on the volleyball team.
Derek Winbush, 18, said they smoked marijuana together and sometimes went to parties, but said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev didn’t party often.
“He did what normal kids do,” Winbush said.
Although described as social, friends said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev didn’t joke around much.
“Me and my friends, we joke around a lot, but Dzhokhar wouldn’t make a joke because I don’t think he wanted to offend people,” Barros said. “That’s what made me wonder, what happened to him to make him want to do these things?”
Another friend, Devon Clark, who graduated with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, said he wouldn’t typically hang out with friends after school.
Page 2 of 2 - “He was by himself mostly,” Clark said. “He was social in that he would nod and smile at you but he didn’t talk much. He was kind of quiet.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev rarely expressed political views, friends said. A neighbor, Caprice Ruff, 18, said she was aware the family is Muslim because she sometimes saw people visiting dressed in a hijab, but she never heard him talk about Islam. Ruff said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s sister did not wear a headscarf and dressed like her peers at Cambridge Rindge and Latin.
The Associated Press reported both suspects are from a Russian region near Chechnya. The uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md., told The Associated Press that the men lived together near Boston and have been in the United States for about a decade.
Ruff often saw Dzhokhar Tzarnaev riding a skateboard outside of his Norfolk Street home, including the night before the Boston Marathon bombings. Police are now stationed outside the home.
“We are progressing through this [Norfolk] neighborhood going door to door, street to street,” said Col. Timothy Alben, the superintendent of Massachusetts State Police, during a press conference on Friday afternoon. “There has been no apprehension at this point. This afternoon, there will be controlled explosions over in Cambridge on Norfolk Street in the house we secured earlier today. This is done for the safety of law enforcement officials before they search the premises.”
Friends were shocked to hear that their former classmate is suspected of four murders and over 170 injuries, including dozens of amputated limbs from the marathon bombings Monday.
Other classmates expressed disbelief when interviewed by WCVB on Friday morning.
"From what I know he seems like the sweetest kid; I’m not defending him, but he was a very sweet kid in high school. There was nothing weird about him," said Katherine McDonough, former classmate and president of the Class of 2011 at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. "Everyone is very shocked. ... It’s very hard news to deal with especially since we have such a tight-knit community at school. As far as I knew him, it seems like he wouldn’t even hurt a fly. We’re confused, we’re angry, we’re hurt -- just a lot of emotions right now."