Chief: Over 200 Shots Fired in Gunfight with Bombing Suspect
BOSTON, Mass. (WGGB/CNN) — Watertown’s Police Chief is shedding some new light on the events that preceded a day-long hunt for one of the alleged suspects in the bombing at the Boston Marathon.
In an interview Saturday afternoon with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Watertown Police Chief Ed Deveau says that around 1:00 a.m. Friday, one of his officers encountered 19-year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev and 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev as they were driving two cars.
The two brothers got out of the car before the officer could back up and came out shooting. The officer was forced to throw his vehicle into reverse to try and gain space from the suspects.
According to Deveau, five other officers who had just completed their shifts then arrived on the scene to an intense shootout.
“We estimate there were over 200 shots fired in a five to ten minute period,” Deveau said.
One of the suspects also threw an explosive at the officers. According to the chief, that explosive was later found to be a pressure cooker bomb, similar to those used at the marathon on Monday. The suspects also threw other explosive devices at the officers, in all six devices were later recovered at the scene.
Eventually the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, walked directly at police coming within five to ten feet of the closest officer. Tsarnaev ran out of ammunition and thats when police officers tackeled him in the street.
It was while the officers were attempting to handcuff Tamerlan, that one of the officers yelled to get back. Officers dove out of the way as the younger brother, Dzhokar, drove directly over his brother, dragging him a short way down the street.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Officers the noticed that a transit police officer who had arrived after the initial five officers was shot in the groin during the shootout. Two other police officers tended to his serious bleeding while others chased the suspect.
“They just deserve all kinds of credit for saving that gentleman’s life up until this point,” said Deveau, who didn’t name the wounded officer. “Our prayers are still with him and the family, because he’s still in a tough way. He lost a lot of blood at the scene there, but we hope he can make a recovery.”
According to Deveau, after fleeing the scene by car with officers in pursuit, the younger brother abandoned the vehicle two or three streets away and then fled on foot into the darkness.
The events stemmed from the fatal shooting of another officer late Thursday night. Sean Collier, an MIT campus police officer, was responding to a loud disturbance call when one of the brothers shot him in his cruiser, Deveau said.
It was from there the brothers allegedly carjacked the Mercedes, forcing it’s driver to withdraw cash from an ATM. Eventually they did let the victim go, but not before confessing that they were the ones responsible for both the marathon bombings as well as the police officers death, said Deveau.
Luckily for the authorities, the victim’s cell phone remained inside the SUV, allowing them to determine the vehicle was in Watertown and enabling them to catch up to it.
The manhunt for Dzhokar Tsarnaev lasted all day Friday and essentially brought Boston to a complete standstill. That evening law enforcement got a tip. A Watertown man told police that someone was hiding in his boat in the backyard and was bleeding.
“We had a couple thousand police officers on scene. The turnout was just incredible. The support from the state and from the region, and so we had tactical people to close the scene down and secure it. We did take our time to make sure that everyone was safe in the neighborhood. Eventually we had to use some flash bangs to render the subject,” Deveau notes of the support his community received from law enforcement during Friday’s situation.
After an all-day search, a Watertown resident spotted someone lying inside a boat in his backyard and called police.
The person in the boat turned out to be Dzhokar Tsarnaev.
Gunfire was exchanged, followed by the the use of some “flash bangs” and about a half-hour of negotiation.
Deveau also said that an FBI negotiator stationed on the second floor of the house kept an eye on the boat, and while they couldn’t keep a visual look at him, help from the air allowed them to know what was happening in the boat.
“No, we couldn’t see him. There was a plastic top over him. We had state police helicopter that could tell us when there was movement in the boat by the heat sensor. So we could tell he was alive and moving and began negotiations that way and over a long period of time we were able to get him to surrender,” Deveau says.
Dzhokar Tsarnaev remains hospitalized in a Boston hospital.
Investigators are still combing through all the crime scenes so there was no details yet on what items Tsarnaev may have had with him at the time of his capture. They also are unsure of where the brothers acquired the weapons, explosives and knowledge to pull off the weeks events. However police are confident that there are no other suspects at this time.
“From what I know right now, these two acted together and alone. As far as this little cell and this little group, I think we got our guys,” Deveau stated.