Catch and ‘Relief’ in Watertown

Communities celebrate as manhunt for Boston Marathon bombing suspect comes to an end.

Photo by Steve Annear.

Photo by Steve Annear.

As the ambulance transporting Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev rolled down Mount Auburn Street in Watertown late Friday night, hundreds of bystanders cheered and rejoiced knowing that the day-long manhunt, and community lock down, had finally come to an end.

Dzhokhar, 19, and his brother, Tamorlan, 26, were wanted by police and FBI officials in connection with the blasts set off at Monday’s race that killed three people, and injured nearly 200 others. In the days following the attack, the brothers took police on a wild chase from Cambridge to Watertown, which led to the death of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, and eventually, Tamorlan, during a shootout in the streets.

But the sounds of gunfire that were heard early Friday morning were soon replaced by whistles and applause by nightfall, when police finally captured the second brother, Dzhokhar, after a search effort that had all but shutdown much of Greater Boston.

When Marie Rocha, of Belmont, learned about Dzhokhar’s capture, she decided to take a break and come outside to celebrate. “It’s awesome that they got him. I think [the police] did a really great job,” said Rocha, whose boyfriend, Bernie Hallums, a police officer, came all the way from Connecticut hours before the arrest. Hallums said officers in Massachusetts did “a phenomenal job” securing the local communities, and locating the alleged bomber. “It’s just great,” he said.

Moments after officials announced that investigators “got him,” referring to Dzhokhar’s arrest, multiple police, SWAT and ambulance vehicles rolled through the streets of Watertown, and we welcomed by hundreds of thankful revelers. The driver of the SWAT truck took to the loudspeaker and said “it was our pleasure,” before leading a chant with the letters “B.P.D” for the Boston Police Department.

As the ambulance with Dzhokhar inside worked its way through the crowd, 17-year-old Jason Swallow, who drove from Danvers to Watertown with friends, said it was a “relief” it was all over. The teens saw a bloodied, but alive, Dzhokhar through the ambulance’s window, they said.

“It’s good that they got him, finally. Hopefully they can keep him alive, so that they can bring him to justice,” said Swallow.

For Watertown resident Michael Chalhoub, the relief of knowing that Dzhokhar was in custody was a welcoming finish to a long day. “I’m feeling a lot better. I’m very happy. It’s a relief to get him off of the streets. Watertown is quiet, and the last day has been really hectic,” he said. “Now it’s time to get a beer.”

Chalhoub was one of hundreds of people that crowded the roadway just blocks from where Dzhokhar was found hiding inside of a boat on Franklin Street. When the motorcade of police units passed through moments after a standoff and his eventual arrest, people thanked officers, and yelled “Boston Strong.”

Melissa Morse, a mother and resident of Watertown, said getting to sleep Friday night would be much easier, adding that she was thankful for the heroic actions of the many law officials that risked their lives to put an end to the terror that was looming over her community.

“They handled it brilliantly,” said Morse. “This is a time for great sadness, as we mourn the deaths of the victims, but the cheering is necessary for [the officers’] great work.”