WATERTOWN, Mass. — Saturday marks six months since the manhunt for the suspects of the Boston Marathon bombing ended here. One suspect was killed; the other was captured.
Six months later, there are still many lingering questions. Some of which were posed by
President Obama when he addressed the nation that night. He said:
Tonight there are still many unanswered questions. Among them: Why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence? How did they plan and carry out these attacks?
Today, those responsible for tracking down and capturing the surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, still refuse to answer most questions, citing the ongoing FBI investigation.
But the manhunt is still on the minds of many Watertown residents.
Remembering That Day
Lizzy Floyd lives at 56 Laurel St. in Watertown. It was around 12:45 a.m. when she looked out her window.
“I thought it was fireworks. I’d never heard gunshots before,” she said. “I saw the cop shooting from here, and I saw the guys down there by two cars, shooting back.”
Ed Deveau had a unique perspective on the shootout, which lasted about seven minutes, and the dramatic events that unfolded over the next 20 hours. For the past 12 years, Deveau has been Watertown’s chief of police.
“I was home,” he remembered. “I was actually sleeping and I was woken up by our officer in charge, him telling me that our officers were in a gunfight and they were having bombs thrown at them.”
Deveau couldn’t share much of what he knows about April 19.
“It’s because the case is still being prosecuted,” he said. “We can’t go into a lot of detail about the exact — you know, how we knew what we knew.”
The absence of official information has fueled conspiracy theories. Was the elder Tsarnaev brother working for the CIA? Why had the FBI killed Tsarnaev’s friend during an interrogation in Florida? Was Tamerlan Tsarnaev involved in a triple homicide in Waltham?
Residents of Watertown have more basic questions. Jean MacDonald lives on Laurel Street. Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body ended up in her driveway after he was run over by his brother, who was trying to escape.
“I wanted to know why they came down this street,” MacDonald said. “Did they know somebody down this street? They’re from Cambridge.”
This part of Watertown is a confusing run of streets that veer off in many directions. But the Tsarnaevs seemed to know the area well. A friend of the older brother used to live two blocks from Laurel Street, and a car registered to the younger brother was ticketed here during a snow emergency. But why did they come here that night? Not once, but three times.
Earlier that evening, they allegedly stole a Mercedes SUV in Boston and kidnapped the driver, who said they made two stops on Fairfield Street in this part of Watertown, transferring bags from one car into the Mercedes. Then, after driving back to Cambridge for gas, where the carjack victim escaped, the brothers again headed to Watertown, turning onto Dexter Avenue.
After the shootout, and driving over his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev took off in the car. Police fired at him, but did not follow. Deveau said that’s because a MBTA police officer, Richard Donohue, had been shot. He was probably a victim of friendly fire, as Tsarnaev tried to escape.
“Our biggest concern immediately, then, was going to the aid of officer Donohue,” Deveau said. “He was in bad shape and the fleeing suspect was second to him. He was our main priority.”
Donohue was also one of the first to respond earlier that evening to the fatal shooting of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier. Federal authorities say the Tsarnaev brothers murdered Collier for his gun. With Donohue down, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev drove up Spruce Street for a half-mile. He jumped out of the stolen vehicle, and took off on foot, leaving the car in front of the home of Jack Condon.
“The driver’s side door was open and it was bullet-riddled,” Condon recalled. “There were no police around it for a while, I would say 10 minutes, probably. But it wasn’t like the police all came flying up with their lights on.”
By then, Tsarnaev was gone. The manhunt intensified. The search perimeter expanded. Residents of Watertown and much of Greater Boston were asked to stay indoors. It wasn’t until 6 p.m. that the shelter-in-place order was lifted. That’s when searchers got a break: A report of a boat with blood on it was called in to police from 67 Franklin St.
Police swarmed the area and evacuated nearby homes. They fired blanks and gas into the boat. Then there was a barrage of gunfire.
Dumitru Ciuc and his wife Olga live on Franklin Street, two doors down from the boat. They too have questions.
“What happened that night?” Ciuc asked. “They started shooting before they took him out. Why did they shoot like this? I don’t know why.” Ciuc’s house was hit by seven bullets that night. Their neighbor’s house was riddled with 27.
Law enforcement officials also have questions, and they said they’re trying to figure out just what happened on the streets of Watertown six months ago. Deveau said it may take awhile.
“We know the public has a thirst for this information and really needs to know the whole story, but we also know that everybody in Greater Boston wants to see this prosecuted properly,” he said. “That’s why we have to do what we have to do to protect the case.”
Deveau said that many questions can be answered at the trial, and others can be answered more openly after the trial.
A trial date hasn’t been set. It’s not expected to start until late next year, long after the 2014 Boston Marathon.
Deveau has run the marathon three times, and plans to run the next one. He recently moved to an apartment on Commonwealth Avenue, not far from the finish line.