Freedom From Fear: Boston is Liberated As Suspect is Captured

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Peter van Agtmael / Magnum for TIME

A crowd gathers at Boston Common after the final suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing was arrested on April 19, 2013, in Boston, Mass.

“O happy town beside the sea,” philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson called Boston, “whose roads lead everywhere to all.” Friday would have saddened him. Oliver Wendell Holmes preferred to call Boston “the hub of the solar system.” But while the planets spun in their orbits, the hub fell ominously silent, its roads as empty as the day after Armageddon.

(PHOTOS: Images of Boston’s Massive Manhunt)

Silent, that is, but for the throbbing of military helicopters through otherwise vacant skies, and the whine of police sirens. An entire city, one of the great cities—a hive of finance and technology and commerce and culture—was made eerie and ghostly in the blink of an eye. And somewhere in the midst of this unnatural, perhaps unprecedented, scene, the cause of it all lay hidden.

A teenage boy.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, ruiner of so many promising lives, including his own, had vanished after allegedly participating in his second spree of terror in four days. The accused Boston Marathon bomber, a slim, doe-eyed athlete of 19, was flushed from anonymity on Thursday evening, when the FBI released images from surveillance videos that placed him with his brother, Tamerlan, at the scene of Monday’s mayhem. The hunted pair apparently left their apartment in Cambridge, killed a campus policeman nearby, stole a car, and fought a little war with their police pursuers in the nearby suburb of Watertown. Some 200 shots were exchanged, and the brothers lobbed homemade grenades. Tamerlan was mortally wounded in the battle, while his younger brother ran into the night.

When dawn approached and the fugitive still had not been found, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino decided to shut down the city. They started with public transportation. Commuter trains and subways were switched off. Bus service was suspended. Amtrak stopped running, and ferries remained at their piers. As Richard A. Davey, secretary of transportation for the Bay State, explained: “We did not want to have customers potentially put in harm’s way. And we didn’t want to give this suspect the opportunity to get out of the city using public transit.”

(MORE: Brothers in Arms: Sibling Psychology and the Bombing Suspects)

Spots of blood on the Watertown pavement suggested that the second suspect was still nearby. Officials took the larger step of asking citizens throughout Boston to hunker down in their homes—“shelter in place,” in the lingo of this awful age of terror. Citizens would be safer behind locked doors, they reasoned, and if the streets were empty, police would be free to focus their efforts on the hunt. Lights went out in the offices of businesses great and small. Guards locked the spinning doors of downtown skyscrapers. School was cancelled. At Fenway Park, the Red Sox game was postponed; ditto the Bruins game at the Garden.

Behind bolted doors, Bostonians saw through their windows things never before seen on a warm Spring day in Beantown. Normally snarled and honking thoroughfares like Summer Street and Commonwealth Avenue were empty. The Boston Common and Quincy Market were deserted. The winding streets of the North End had hardly any map-squinting tourists blocking the sidewalks. No racing shells skimmed along the Charles River; the lawns of Harvard were quiet and lonely; no pot smoke scented the Square.

(MORE: Manhunt Ends As Bombing Suspect Is Captured in Watertown)

“How can one person cause all this?” asked Joan Kraus, a Watertown native.

And where was he? SWAT teams went door-to-door through Watertown, where one homeowner after another peered out to see who was knocking before turning the latch. “When I opened the door, there were three police officers in fatigues standing there with huge guns, pointing into our house and at me,” said Jennifer Sartori, a professor at Northeastern University. “I know these people are here to protect me, but I have never stared into the barrel of a gun before, and I hope I never have to again.”

Detectives combed through the brothers’ apartment, and others canvassed the University of Massachusetts campus in Dartmouth, miles to the south, where the younger one had reportedly been enrolled. Blackhawks flew low over tense neighborhoods while patrolmen flagged down the few remaining taxicabs to peer into backseats.

After so much trauma this week, many parents tried to shield their children from the sight of dark, growling armored personnel carriers rolling slowly along neighborhood streets; of armored men in goggled helmets aiming automatic rifles; of fierce-looking dogs straining at short leashes. The city held its breath as the nation watched and waited.

(VIDEO: Obama: Bombers’ “Hateful Agenda” Will Not Prevail)

On this same day 238 years earlier, British troops from Boston reached the town green in nearby Lexington, where the waiting Minutemen fired “the shot heard ‘round the world.” Now, the metaphor was a reality, as satellites beamed images of Boston around the planet. Yet the story was the unheard shot from the unseen gun of the unfound terrorist who had shut down a great city.

As the sun slid down the sky, Gov. Patrick and Mayor Menino at last acknowledged just how wrong this all was, and how vain. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remained at large, but they would no longer allow him to hold the city prisoner. The officials ended the voluntary lockdown of the happy town beside the sea, and reopened the streets with a sensible warning to be careful out there. The Hub began to turn again.

Set free, a homeowner in Watertown went outside and made his own little search. He found suspicious signs of an intruder hiding in his trailered boat behind the house. Infinitely more useful than he had been all cooped up, this citizen called the police. He had cracked the case.

As the authorities arrived, Boston was already returning to life. In short order, they took their prisoner, a mere boy, frightened, cowering, and alone.

VIDEO: The Boston Manhunt Ends: Sights and Sounds from Watertown


It was a police spectacle of biblical proportions worthy of Crichton/Simpson and Bruckheimer kind of production. If it were not for the VERY REAL tragedy of the dead and wounded, the disproportionate response to such a matter ought give pause to a more rational mind. Remember that our enemies also watch T.V.

What was the expense?   Are Americans that fearful?   If two boys who are dumb enough to rob a 7-11, can cost their Gov't xyz due to fear, imagine what some of our tough guys could do?

Dep't of Homeland Sec. might be a good gig for burnouts from other agency's, but Janet has run wild. There is no way to "Spin" this one. These were two idiots, that had focus, and rage. With a little technical know-how. They were not anything but "soldiers". Boston cops KNEW this the moment the 7-11 got hit. Yet, the "Feebies" were still in charge and soaking up the news coverage.

Now Janet refuses to answer Congress's questions. Who is in charge of who in America?

shapiro.len 1 Like

Its been centuries since a western nation launched a "holy crusade" against the Muslim world. Busy devouring each other, it took a Bush Christian fundamentalist, full of a lifetime of personal sin and guilt, raging against a "family" that despised him as a loser, a disgrace, a humiliation.well, he would show them all. He would spread the word, soak p the oil, befoul the democratic system and destroy it,in America, once and for all.He would use the US Constitution as a handi-wipe. He would destroy the free press, roll back history and science, and launch a new Western"dark age."   all that, and much more.


It’s time to be reminded how senseless terrorism became a justifiable means of struggle for the “enraged” underdogs. Kudos to the Nobel peace prize winner who invented the modern political terrorism and provides a role model even today, from his tomb in Ramallah – Yasser Arafat.


there are no "underdogs."  we are all equal in our vulnerability to violence. It matters not if its a drone, a tank, a handmade device or a lie. we are all human- we all lie and we are all self-righteous. role models are fiction. we find our own "truth" inside of ourselves, and decide, from our individual free will, what to do about it. Sacrifice is a fraud. We do exactly what makes us feel good about ourselves. nothing will get better for any of us until we leasrn to stay out of each others way, enough to live and let live.the human psyche is too primitive for that, right now.


@shapiro.len Sure, everything's relative. There is no meaning to truth, no limits to violence, no difference between justice and terror, no reason to prefer love to hatred, no value worth fighting for. I can't understand why you let relativistic BS replace the wisdom of your heritage, the moral criteria that kept your forbearers just and right through the most challenging prosecuting tyrannies, the basic humanistic outlook encapsulated in the Jewish saying, A single life is worth the whole world. 

shapiro.len 1 Like

Americans don't know we have a lion by the tail. they think we are the lion. We can just march in,invade and destroy,thousands of people lives, kill up close and from afar. We can award medals for "volunteers" who sacrifice for their nation, and destroy other nations who barely knew we exised before. Well, Afghans know we exist now, as well as Muslims all over the world, even Chechnya. They know how to get here and what we have done to their lands. We have nothing to celebrate. Not until we return to sanity.

shapiro.len 1 Like

don't celebrate so fast. it ain't over till its over. America declared war on the Moslem world,thanks to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice/Powell.  America launched a Crusade from the West- after many centuries of staying away from holy wars.

Yes, we gobbled up each others empires, until there was nothing left to gobble. So, George W. Bush rediscovered his Christian faith and set out to make holy war on a world largely left alone by the West.

So, we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan,Saudi Arabia, and built bases in the Persian Gulf to house our foulness and desecration.This,when we already were hated because of our support of the JEWS, now re-invented as Israelis. An ocean of oil was there for the taking,as Cheney licked his lips and sharpened his blades. But, more than that, glory awaited Americans.  Bush needed to bath in the glory of "the LORD" and wash away his sins of a lifetime. A common criminal, a thief, an addict, a history of family debaucheries,disgraces, and crimes, he had much to atone for.

so, we marched into Iraq. Now, we have to face a billion potential jihadists seeking revenge for this American invasion of their holy places We have to watch our people,whether they are at work,as in the Twin Towers, or at play,as in the Boston Marathon,lose their limbs and lives because they were too disinterested, ignorant, self-righteous, chauvinistic- just too damned full of themselves .


Wow! Just like on "Law & Order", huh? A bunch of drunk mooks in Boston celebrating...what? Everything tied up with a bow and medals for everyone. I haven't seen or heard any concrete evidence yet. Where is John King working today?


..."the bombs bursting in air

gave proof in the night that our flag was still there'..

formquest 1 Like

Apart from video surveillance I haven't heard any evidence that links them directly to the bombs. Things like fingerprints, DNA,  even someone seeing them put the the actual bombs in place in the garbage disposal. It would be a little frightening if these brothers became easy scapegoats to ease the public and political pressure....its not like that hasn't been done many times at various levels in the US and Canada. I hope they were right with their decision that these were in fact the bombers...especially since they shot them both and killed one.


@formquest The driver of the carjacked SUV said that the brothers spoke about being the marathon bombers while they were holding him prisoner the other day. The brothers used his bank card to make a withdrawal at an ATM. After another withdrawal attempt was unsuccessful, they let the driver go.

AzetcGuy 2 Like

Boston is free all from the police siege to capture a 19 year old kid. What an over reaction. Now every nut job in the world knows how to shut an entire city down, and the feds and local police are eager participants.

Sorwad 1 Like

So, how much did these two knuckle heads cost the American public...and how much more?  Seems like a pretty decent tactic...pushing us over the fiscal cliff.

sgreco1970 1 Like

we cannot ever get back those lives these boys took. The loss, of even a few lives, was too many. But these terrorists did not win. The people of Boston came together to help one another and our men in uniform, be they police, fbi or national guardsmen, routed them. One has met his end, another will meet justice. They did not win. Let this stand as a lesson to any who wish to follow these fools. We will not be beaten down by your hatred or your callous disregard for life. Bin laden is dead and his pawns languish in prison camps. These 2 fools are meeting their fates. You will do well to avoid that fate.


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