Edward Deveau, Watertown’s police chief, described a terrifying and chaotic scene as he recounted the details of the gunfight that took place between the cops and the Boston bombing suspects.
Working together, the Watertown, Mass., community and its small police department apprehended the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who was found severely wounded from a violent stand-off that shut down Boston for nearly 24 hours. Th
Late Thursday night, Watertown police officers were notified of a shooting on the MIT campus: a university police officer had been killed in Cambridge. Shortly after, the department received updates that a carjacking had taken place. A cell phone in that car alerted them that the vehicle was headed for Watertown. Chief Deveau increased the number of police officers from four to six to patrol the streets. Although no definitive connection had yet linked the MIT police officer’s death to the Boston Marathon bombings, one Watertown cop sighted the car and radioed into the station.
“Unfortunately, the two bad guys stopped, got out of their cars and immediately started firing on my officer. So he was defenseless, if you will, in a car,” Deveau told msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell.
After six Watertown police officers–“four on duty, two off-duty”–engaged in the gunfight, “the bad guys go back to one of their vehicles and open a trunk at some point. And that’s when they heave something at our officers and this huge explosion. And that’s the first bomb that went off. That was the one that had the pressure cooker, the–the lid of it was embedded in the car down the street,” Deveau said.
Four more explosives were thrown at the officers; two of the bombs detonated, two did not. The two Tsarnaev brothers continued to “bring the fight” to the officers, firing between 200 and 300 rounds. When the 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev finally ran out of ammunition, the cops saw a chance to try to bring him down.
Unaware if the suspect had wired a bomb to his body, the police officer jumped, pinnned Tsarnaev to the ground, and attempted to get handcuffs on him. “I’m sure these officers just were on adrenaline and trying to bring it to a close. And they made the best decisions they could at the time, which turned out to be a good one,” Deveau said.
While the older brother was pinned down, the younger brother “gets in the carjack vehicle, the SUV” and “comes roaring down the street at the three officers that are handcuffing his brother.” The police officers dove out of the way and the younger brother careened down the street and “literally ran over his brother,” said Deveau.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was fatally wounded but his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, escaped the scene.
The Watertown police chief lauded the efforts of the six police officers who were in the center of the gunfire.
“My heart bleeds for the MIT police officer and his family, that they’re planning a funeral for him,” Deveau said. “But I look at myself and my department and I don’t understand how we’re not doing the same thing. How those guys survived is just a test of courage for them and what they accomplished down there.”
Police didn’t find the younger Dzhokhar until about 8 pm Friday evening when a Watertown resident noticed that the straps on his backyard boat weren’t positioned as they should have been. The resident, David Henneberry, went outside to readjust the straps and noticed blood on his boat. He looked under the tarp to discover a man covered in blood.
Police quickly surrounded the boat; they brought a hostage negotiator to the scene but also fired a barrage of bullets. Tsarnaev started to get up–and officials took him into custody.
“I just can’t say enough of their bravery on what they did to defend this town and the greater Boston area to pin those guys down,” the chief said. The suspects “had explosive devices that they wanted to use to kill more people. And we took ‘em on. We didn’t let ‘em get away.” And Watertown’s men, he said, “They saved a lot of lives.”
Three people were killed in last week’s bombing at the Boston Marathon and about 200 were injured. Surviving Boston bombing suspect Dhzokhar Tsarnaev was charged Monday with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, a charge which could carry the death penalty.