Photos of the Manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Behind the scenes of the hunt for the Boston Marathon bomber.

All photographs by Massachusetts State Police Sergeant Sean Murphy


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Law enforcement officials converge on the boat in Watertown where Tsarnaev is hiding.

It was likely the most terrifying manhunt in Boston history. With the city under lockdown and armored vehicles rolling through Watertown, the alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had seemingly vanished. While the rest of Greater Boston experienced the unfolding dragnet on April 19 as a series of indirect glimpses, Sergeant Sean Murphy, in his assignment as a tactical photographer with the Massachusetts State Police, was behind police lines, documenting the day’s events. Months later, Murphy walked into our offices and told us he was furious with the way Tsarnaev was being portrayed on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. He turned over a number of his photos to us because, he said, the suspect in the pictures he took that night was the actual face of terrorism, not the “fluffed and buffed” image on the Rolling Stone cover. Murphy knew he was taking a risk by handing over his photos—and after 14 of his images were published on bostonmagazine.com, he was suspended for a day. (When the print edition of this story went to press, Murphy had been placed on restricted duty. He’s now been transferred to the State Police barracks in Athol, where he is assigned to the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.) “I hope that the people who see these images will know that this was real,” Murphy told us the day we published his images. “It was as real as it gets.” In the September issue of Boston, we published more of Murphy’s dramatic photos. Here, we present those images as well as a selection of others that did not run in the print edition.

Tsarnaev manhunt

Federal, state, and local officials spend the day strategizing in and around the mobile state-police command post.

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Tsarnaev, clinging to life, attempts to exit the boat.

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Tsarnaev exits the boat and falls to the ground, after which police medics rush to save his life.

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