An Editor’s Note published July 12, 2017, about Kevin Deutsch’s reporting appears at the end of this story.
WATERTOWN, Mass. -- An unprecedented manhunt for the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings that shut down the metropolitan area ended Friday night when the teenager was taken into custody after being found hiding in a boat in a suburban backyard.
Just after officials lifted the daylong lockdown throughout the area, several shots rang out on a street in this community less than 10 miles west of Boston. Hundreds of heavily armed police and federal officers responded and discovered a bloodied Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding in the boat.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said at a news conference that a Watertown resident noticed blood on the boat in his backyard and lifted the tarp.
"He said to me, 'I saw a bloody body in there. Then it moved.' "
Minutes later, a police helicopter equipped with an infrared camera flew over the site and detected the heat of a body in the boat, officials said.
The suspect, 19, had eluded a police dragnet for nearly 20 hours following a shootout in which his 26-year-old brother was killed.
Officers carrying automatic weapons and wearing bulletproof vests descended on the neighborhood and seized him about 8:45 p.m. He had no explosives with him, police said.
The home sat just a block outside the 20-block perimeter set up by police for a house-to-house search.
"We got him," Boston Mayor Tom Menino tweeted after the drama ended.
In an emotional release of tension after days of anxiety, applause rippled down streets when word spread that Tsarnaev was in custody. Hundreds of people gathered where the suspect was found, cheered, whistled and clapped in an extraordinary scene as an ambulance transported him to a hospital. A policeman in a cruiser called out "God bless America" over his loudspeaker as he drove by. Crowds cheered "USA! USA!"
During a televised address to the nation, President Barack Obama said the nation owes a debt of gratitude to the law enforcement officials who captured the suspect.
"There are still many unanswered questions," he said. "Why did young men who grew up and studied here . . . resort to such violence? How did they plan and carry out these attacks and did they receive any help?"
Davis said in a news briefing that the suspect was in serious condition. The extent of his wounds was not immediately known.
It was a day like no other in recent American history.
The terror that seized one of America's greatest cities and its environs started Monday afternoon on a day of celebration and the running of the Boston Marathon. Two bombs exploded in rapid succession at the finish line, killing an 8-year-old boy, a 29-year-old restaurant manager and a Boston University graduate student from China. More than 170 were injured, many losing limbs when pressure cookers packed with nails, ball bearings and metal fragments exploded.
Brother dies in shootout
Tsarnaev's brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an amateur boxer, was killed early Friday morning during a gun battle with police. He was described as married and the father of a young daughter.
Before the shootout, police said, the pair executed Sean Collier, 26, a campus officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Minutes later, police said, they carjacked a Mercedes with the driver. They stole the unidentified victim's debit card, visiting two or three ATMs and withdrawing a total of $800 before releasing him.
The carjacking victim later told investigators one of the brothers said: "We did the bombings. We just killed a cop. And if you don't give us the car, we'll kill you, too."
Alerted to the scene, police chased the brothers, who had been identified as ethnic Chechens, into Watertown, the Middlesex County district attorney's office said. During the chase, the brothers hurled explosives at the officers. When the getaway car came to a halt, about 200 rounds were fired in a furious exchange of gunfire. At some point, the elder Tsarnaev died.
A Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority officer, Richard Donohue Jr., was shot and seriously wounded in the exchange. Then the younger Tsarnaev drove through police barricade and managed to flee, officials said.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was found with an explosive trigger on his body at the hospital, a law enforcement source told Newsday. It's unclear what it was connected to, the source said.
Before Tsarnaev was captured, sources with knowledge of the investigation said FBI agents interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011 at the request of a foreign government. They complied with the requests and found no links to terror or any threats, the sources told Newsday.
Friday afternoon, police went door-to-door in Watertown. They found pipe bombs, improvised explosive devices, a pressure cooker and ammunition at multiple locations in the area.
As authorities searched for Tsarnaev, his family spoke out. Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the mother of the two suspected bombers, according to news reports, said: "My oldest son . . . never talked about terrorism." She said he became increasingly religious in the recent past. "He never told me he would be on the side of jihad."
The men's father said they must have been framed. "I'm afraid for my other boy," said Anzor Tsarnaev.
The search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shut down the Boston area, schools were closed, businesses shuttered, mass transit halted and the airspace over the city declared a "no fly zone." Residents, on high alert for days, were ordered indoors for hours Friday and told not to let anyone into their homes unless they could prove they were law enforcement officials.
"It's like martial law," Watertown resident Mary Rucker said as a Blackhawk helicopter flew overhead and a Humvee rolled down the street. "Everywhere you look, someone has a machine gun."
The motive for the crime spree remains a mystery. The brothers are of Chechen descent, but it's not clear that this played any role. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wanted two years ago to learn about his heritage and about his people's ongoing struggle for independence with Russia, according to an expert on that Chechen history.
Brian GlynWilliams, a professor at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who had attended the school, contacted him in 2011 and "seemed totally uninformed" about his heritage.
Williams said he did not go into great detail but sketched out the history of the Chechens' struggle.
While the parents defended their children, Ruslan Tsarni, the young men's uncle, who lives in Maryland and hadn't seen them in years, described the pair as "a disgrace." He said they came to the United States in 2003 from Kyrgyzstan, that they both received asylum. Tsarni said the bombings had nothing to do with their Chechen roots. He pleaded with his surviving nephew to surrender.
The young man's friends were incredulous.
"He's a smart kid, quiet, mellow," said Kelly Rees, 19, of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. "He studied a lot. I literally cannot believe he did this. It's so, so shocking."
The younger Tsarnaev said he was Muslim but did not seem particularly devout, she said. He told her he was from Russia but didn't speak about his past at length.
"Honestly, he was sweet," she said. "He did not talk politics or say anything inflammatory. Even when I saw the photo on the news Friday, I couldn't believe it was him. But, yeah, I guess it is."
A spokeswoman at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in New York referred all questions on the Tsarnaev brothers' statuses to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., but the agency had not responded to information requests as of noon Friday.
An earlier version of this story stated Watertown, Mass. is 20 miles outside Boston. This version has been updated to reflect the correct distance -- less than 10 miles.
Editor’s note: Newsday undertook an extensive, four-month review of reporting by Kevin Deutsch, who covered law enforcement from April 2012 to September 2016.
The review of the former Newsday reporter’s work began after The Baltimore Sun this year reported that law enforcement and other officials questioned the veracity of Deutsch’s nonfiction book “Pill City” about Baltimore’s drug trade. In addition, questions arose about individuals named in Newsday stories by Deutsch. Book publisher St. Martin’s Press and Deutsch have said they stand behind the book.
We are dedicated to accurate, factual reporting, to the highest journalistic standards and to maintaining our credibility with Newsday readers. We also are committed to being accountable to our readers. Newsday undertook the detailed review in that spirit and because of the concerns that were raised.
In late February, as our review was under way, The New York Times reported in an editor’s note that The Times “had been unable to locate or confirm the existence of two people who were named and quoted” in a Dec. 29, 2016, freelance article written by Deutsch. Deutsch “maintains that the interviews and the descriptions are accurate,” The Times wrote.
Newsday reviewed 600 stories with reporting by Deutsch. We contacted officials in the police departments regularly involved in Deutsch’s coverage. They said they had not had problems with his work. We then focused our research and reporting on individuals who, as described in the stories, would not be considered officials, or well-known, public figures.
The review found 77 stories with 109 individuals from Deutsch’s reporting whom Newsday could not locate. The main points of the stories were not affected. While two stories about the Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen were based on sources Newsday could not locate, other media reported the main points of those stories but with attribution from different sources. In this story, Newsday could not locate: Mary Rucker. Newsday is attaching an editor’s note to each story online that contains individuals we cannot locate.
Here’s how Newsday conducted the review:
Researchers and reporters searched local and national public records, sites providing nationwide people searches, databases of business, real estate and conviction records, social media sites including Facebook, LinkedIn and Ancestry.com and nationwide news archives. They searched potential alternate spellings and other name variations. Their reporting followed potential leads they found through research, within stories and in information shared by Deutsch during the review.
Finding people after publication, in some cases years later, can be difficult because of changes in residence, circumstance and contact information. Some may not have given their real names.
On the law enforcement beat, reporters may encounter people who lead lives that are not reflected in public records or other sources of information that would help locate them. It is possible that some on our list were difficult to find or reluctant to respond to our review because they are undocumented immigrants, those battling or recovering from addiction or people involved in or around illegal activity.
Some on our list were described discussing crimes in their neighborhoods, and others as relatives, friends or neighbors of victims or as individuals living near or knowing those accused of crimes.
Others we have not been able to locate, though, are described as bystanders, neighbors, spectators, relatives of drug victims, witnesses to news events or related in some way to people in the news. Still others are described in stories as people actively engaged in public issues, such as activists, protesters and marchers. Many individuals on the list are described as local.
Deutsch said in email exchanges with Newsday that “I have no doubt about the veracity of the claims of the sources I quoted.” He also said, “Not a single public official, source, or other interviewee has raised any issues with even one of these stories.”
“It's impossible for any reporter to know whether the name given to him by interviewees on the street--or those reached briefly by phone or email-- is that person's full and legal name, rather than an alias or variation of their real name (maiden names and certain common nicknames/abbreviations for first names are often published by newspapers, including Newsday.). But every one of the names on Newsday’s list was the name given to me by that interview subject, verbatim.”
During the four months of our review, Newsday shared questions and updates with Deutsch as we progressed in the search for individuals we could not locate. We requested notes and contact information. Deutsch sent us notes he said represented all individuals we were unable to locate and responded over the course of the review by email, sharing information he said was from his recollection and notes.
Reporters followed up on all information shared by Deutsch. He did not provide contact information for those on our list. Newsday reporters and editors sought unsuccessfully several times to meet with Deutsch to discuss his reporting and to review his notes together to ensure we were not missing contact information or other details that might help locate individuals. Deutsch maintained that the notes he shared “serve as evidence of interviews” with each source.
Deutsch said he kept contact information in a Rolodex he left behind at Newsday’s main office and in a company-issued cellphone he returned within a week after resigning on Sept. 6, 2016. Editorial staff did not find a Rolodex or other notes at our office, but found notes left at Newsday’s desk at a courthouse pressroom where he worked. We shared them with Deutsch and he confirmed they were his. As per company policy, the contents of the cellphone had been deleted immediately after Deutsch returned it to Newsday.
Maintaining the trust of our readers is essential to our mission. If we are able subsequently to locate any individuals, we will update our stories.