5 Year Anniversary: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Apprehended

Hunt for Tsarnaev

Getty Hunt for Tsarnaev

On April 15, 2013, Boylston Street in Boston was shaken by two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. When the smoke cleared, three lives were lost with hundreds more injured including 16 people who would lose limbs. By April 18, 2013, the FBI would narrow down their search to Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Kyrgyz-American brothers of Chechen descent. Boston and America were transfixed on the manhunt for the two brothers for the next 30 hours.

Finding Tamerlan would prove to be much easier than finding Dzhokhar, who managed to evade authorities while taking refuge in Watertown, a Boston suburb.

1.The Tsarnaev Brothers Became Radicalized


GettyBoston bombing site.

In April of 2002, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his parents arrived in the United States on 90 day tourist visas. Fearing persecution for their Chechen ties, the elder Tsarnaev applied for asylum. Tamerlan was left with an uncle in what was then the Russian Federation and made his way to America two years later.

The family obtained permanent legal status in 2007. While Dzhokhar was busying himself as a stand out wrestler at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, Tamerlan had devoted himself to his two new passions: his religion and boxing. In 2008, Tamerlan began attending a mosque near his home in Cambridge that has been referred to as having  “brand of Islamic thought that encourages grievances against the West, distrust of law enforcement and opposition to Western forms of government, dress and social values”;(https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/23/boston-mosque-
radicals/2101411/) by the non-profit organization  Americans for Peace and Tolerance.

Dzhokhar would later tell the FBI that they were influenced by Youtube lectures of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-Yemeni imareports adl.orgm.

At the same time, the Tsarnaev brothers were adjusting to American society. Tamerlan, for example, married an American girl who converted to Islam for him. Dzhokhar would make friends with local friends in Cambridge, and was described as social. He often went out with friends, and was by no means socially isolated.

The Tsarnaev brothers ultimately devised their plan to wreak havoc on the people of Boston on April 15, 2013, by bringing two homemade pressure-cooker bombs with them to the marathon and standing among the spectators near the finish line in order to cause the maximum amount of chaos and destruction.

3.Following The Bombings, A Massive Manhunt for The Tsarnaev Brothers Would Ensue


GettyHunt for Tsarnaev.

After planting the two backpacks that contained the homemade devices the brothers calmly walked away to let the destruction lay in their wake. The remnants of their wrath the only pieces to put together. A lid to a pressure cooker. Nails. Fibers from a backpack. And at least one witness, Jeff Bauman, a double amputee stated: “Bag, saw the guy, looked right at me,” Bloomberg reports.

With the description that Mr. Bauman provided of Tamerlan the FBI was able to identify the older brother and on April 18th released previously unseen photos from Boylston Street of Tamerlan and
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. They now had their suspects and the search was on. Upon the release of the photos, the brothers began their last few free hours on the run. They began by trying to steal the gun from an MIT campus police officer that ended with the police officers death and a subsequent carjacking in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood of Boston.

Under the cover of darkness they entered Watertown at near midnight the 19th of April with an APB out for their car. Patrol Officer Joseph Reynolds spotted them and an armed conflict broke out with three hundred gunshots fired and when their ammunition was exhausted, Tamerlan tried unsuccessfully to fend off the ensuing officers by throwing his gun at them, to no avail. Tamerlan was tackled by law enforcement with Dzhokhar retreating to the vehicle and trying to ram the police. In the end, Dzhokhar’s only victim was his brother, inspiration and mentor.

Later, Dzhokhar would remark that he did not feel sad about Tamerlan; he died a martyr, and was in paradise now. Dzhokhar hoped to soon join him.

4. Dzhokhar Fled to Watertown, Massachusetts


GettyThe boat where Tsarnaev attempted to hide.

David Henneberry, a resident of Watertown, Massachusetts, was aware that there was a large police presence in his neighborhood looking for the fugitive Tsarnaev. Henneberry was hailed as being a hero for finding Tsarnaev in his dry-docked boat. However, according to Henneberry, he had absolutely no idea that Tsarnaev was hiding in the boat, and if he did, he never would have approached him.

Henneberry explained that he saw that some padding he used to protect the back of his boat had been moved out of place. This was not unusual; it happened occasionally during bad weather. So, he went into his backyard to fix the padding and as he approached the boat, he noticed spots of blood on the side of it.

Using a stepladder, Henneberry moved some shrink wrap and padding away so that he could see inside the console. Shocked, Henneberry saw Tsarnaev inside, bloody and curled up in a fetal position. Henneberry immediately ran inside, told his wife, and they called 911. Soon, Tsarnaev was taken into custody.

The Henneberry family has lived under FBI protection since the apprehension of Tsarnaev. All of their mail and packages are screened for fear of retribution. Henneberry lost his beloved boat after it was seized by the FBI, but, according to Henneberry, the boat was becoming more of a nuisance than anything, as tourists kept stopping by to see where Tsarnaev was captured.

5.Tsarnaev Would Face Trial For The Bombings


GettyThe boat in Watertown where Tsarnaev was found.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged with thirty crimes of which he plead not guilty to. These crimes included conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and murder 1. The proceedings began on the 5th of January 2015, nearly 20 months after the mayhem had begun.

Dzhokhar’s counsel had recommended to the jury that he was collateral damage of an overbearing brother with extremist views. The jury was not sympathetic to that claim and on May 15, 2015 Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death by lethal injection. He is housed at United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility Florence, also known as “The Alcatraz of the Rockies”.

Since then, Tsarnaev’s conviction has been tied up in the Appellate Court. In the meantime, Tsarnaev remains under a gag order.

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