Watertown Man Flooded With Offers to Fix, Replace His Beloved Boat

Boat sellers are offering to replace the vessel used by Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a hiding place.

Photo courtesy of Crowdtilt.com

Photo courtesy of Crowdtilt.com

The owner of the boat that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev used as a hideout could end up with a brand new vessel.

After David Henneberry’s boat, the “Slip Away II,” endured a shoot-out between Tsarnaev and police in the moments leading up to the suspect’s arrest, boat companies have started to come forward to offer him a new one, while others have started fundraising online to help fix it.

In photos released by officials this week, the boat appears to be riddled with bullet holes and other damage after hundreds of shots were fired at Tsarnaev in the moments before his arrest. “Now I’m getting flooded with different boat dealers that say they want to replace it. I told [Henneberry] down the road, we will help him figure that out, but right now we have got alot going on,” says Watertown Police Lt. Michael Lawn. Lawn says the boat shoot-out is still under investigation, and the Slip Away II remains an active crime scene.

Before the stand-off with police on Friday, Henneberry stepped outside of his home on Franklin Street for a cigarette after being hunkered down inside all day due to the “shelter-in-place” order implemented by state officials.

Once officials lifted the ban, while outside the Watertown resident noticed something wrong with his beloved boat, which was parked at the end of his driveway and idle for the winter. According to reports, part of the tarp covering the boat was out of place. Curious, Henneberry allegedly pulled back the flap, and that’s when he saw blood, and then found Tsarnaev hiding inside.

Henneberry immediately called 911, and within moments, investigators swarmed in and used aerial thermal technology to track the suspect and confirm his location. Then State Police moved closer to the boat with a large vehicle on the ground and extended a mechanical “arm” to peel back the tarp to get a better visual.

Soon after, the stand-off between Tsarneav and police erupted, according to court documents. The suspect came out of hiding with the help of a negotiator, and investigators moved in to make the arrest. But the success of the capture didn’t come without damage to Henneberry’s beloved boat. “He’s upset … I know him personally. There’s a lot going on for him, and I don’t want to speak for him, but for anyone in that situation it’s going to be [difficult],” says Lawn, who belongs to the same yacht club as Henneberry. “He is a great boat guy and meticulous about his boat.”

Lawn says since the shoot-out, offers to replace the Slip Away II have come in from numerous boat dealers. Lawn says the boat should be returned to Henneberry within the week—but only if officials conducting the investigation clear the crime scene.

Outside of those offers, the Slater Foundation, an organization that funds grassroots projects across Greater Boston, has offered to put $15,000 toward repair costs for, or the replacement of, Henneberry’s vessel. According to the Slater Foundation’s executive director, Sam Slater, after Friday’s events unfolded, they decided that helping the family get their property fixed was the right thing to do. “We wanted to come out and make a statement that we were here to help him and support him,” says Slater. The foundation’s decision to offer their support came after they observed all of the generous donations and acts of kindness demonstrated by local leadership. “In light of the events that happened last week, I felt like it was impressive to see what different leaders were doing [to help],” he says.

If Henneberry doesn’t take up one of those offers, he can always fall back on the donations that have been accumulating on a crowd-sourced fundraising site called CrowdTilt.com. In the few days since the donation site went up, it’s raised more than $6,000. “David’s a modern American hero. The boat will probably be held up as evidence for some time, so if we’re able to get up to $50,000, then he’ll be able to get a brand new boat,” the campaign’s creator wrote on the fundraising page.

While no media outlets have spoken to Henneberry since Friday’s shooting ordeal, Boston made several calls to his Watertown residence. Slater says the foundation is waiting to reach out to Henneberry once the time is more appropriate. “They must have gone through a lot last week. They are probably receiving a lot of emails and phones calls…and probably feel inundated with [everything] at this point,” he says.