U.S. authorities on Friday locked down the Boston area in the hunt for one of two brothers of Chechen background suspected in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings.
Authorities identified one suspect as 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnayev, who was killed in a confrontation with police in Watertown, Mass., according to a U.S. law-enforcement official.
A manhunt was on for the second suspect, identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnayev, 19 years old. Both brothers were believed to be involved in the fatal shooting of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer during a chaotic series of events Thursday night.
Police warned residents that the at-large suspect was armed and dangerous.
“We believe this to be a terrorist,” said Boston Police Chief Ed Davis. “We believe this to be a man who’s come here to kill people. We need to get him in custody.”
The hunt for the younger Mr. Tsarnayev prompted a broad shutdown of public facilities in the Boston area. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick asked people throughout Boston to take shelter and stay indoors.
The Federal Aviation Administration closed the low-level airspace above roughly four miles in northwest Greater Boston as the search goes on. Logan International Airport in Boston tweeted that it “is open and operating under heightened security.” It urged fliers to check their flight status before heading to the airport.
The younger brother was the suspect seen wearing a white cap backward in video and photos released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Thursday. The release prompted a large number of tips from the public, federal officials said. The older brother was wearing a black cap in the video and photos.
Evan Perez and former FBI special agent in charge Andrew Arena, discuss the significance of the Boston Marathon suspects being from Chechnya, Russia. Photo: AP.
Authorities said the older brother was critically injured in the shootout and taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where he was pronounced dead. Richard Wolfe, the hospital’s chief of emergency medicine, said the man had multiple injuries from what appeared to be both an explosive device and gunshot wounds.
The manhunt brought much of the Boston area to a halt on Friday. Mr. Patrick ordered the city’s subway and bus system to be shut down. As police conducted a sprawling search for the suspect in the Boston suburb of Watertown, authorities prohibited street traffic and told businesses there and in surrounding areas to remain closed.
Police were stopping cars at roadblocks as they entered Logan International Airport. Businesses were closed and taxi service was suspended in the city.
The websites of the MIT, Harvard, Boston University and Boston College said classes were canceled Friday.
“We do not want people congregating or waiting,” said Kurt Schwartz, the Massachusetts director of emergency management. The situation, said State Police Col. Timothy Alben, “is grave.”
The FAA has restricted all civilian aircraft within 3,000 feet of the surface over an area that appears to include Watertown, Belmont and parts of Boston and Cambridge in Massachusetts, an FAA spokesman said. On the FAA’s website, the reason listed for the restriction is “to provide a safer environment for law-enforcement activities,” and the point of contact listed for the restriction is an FBI special agent. The FAA closed the airspace at about 6:30 a.m. local time and said it would remain closed until further notice.
Airport officials were not immediately available for comment.
The violence began at around 10:30 p.m. Thursday with the robbery of a 7-Eleven in nearby Cambridge, authorities said. The two men then fatally shot an MIT campus police officer and carjacked a Mercedes sport-utility vehicle at gunpoint, keeping the vehicle’s owner hostage for about a half-hour, police said. The owner was released at a gas station in Cambridge, authorities said. He wasn’t injured.
As police pursued the vehicle, explosive devices were thrown from the car, authorities said. “There was an exchange of gunfire” between police and the suspects,” Mr. Alben said.
A Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer was wounded during the exchange.
Hundreds of police officers descended on the Cambridge and Watertown areas as the violence unfolded Thursday night, authorities said. Residents said they heard loud explosions and gunfire.
Katie Blouin, 24 years old, of Watertown, said FBI agents and local police entered her house, searching before telling her boyfriend to lock the house’s doors.
“I’m shaking,” she said. “It just makes you so nervous.”
Adonis Karageorgis, a 35-year-old dental student who lives in Watertown, said he heard a loud explosion from his apartment balcony.
“I looked up and saw the sky light up,” he said. “You could smell the smoke.”
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center geared up for a potential mass-casualty event when one doctor there—who lives near the scene of the gunfight—heard the commotion outside his home.
“When I started hearing the gunshots and explosions, given what had happened over at MIT and seeing all the police cars rushing into Watertown and past my house and hearing all the sirens, I knew or felt very strongly that this was related to the events from earlier this week as well as from what happened over at MIT,” said David Schoenfeld, an emergency physician there, during a news conference early Friday.
“Because of that, I felt as though something large enough was going on in the community that it warranted calling the emergency department and coming in,” he said.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attended the interfaith service at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
The MIT campus police officer wasn’t identified. The officer had multiple gunshot wounds and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to a statement on the Middlesex County District Attorney’s website.
Shortly before midnight Thursday, police were gathered in Watertown, and a stretch of the campus near Vassar Street and Main Street in Cambridge was cordoned off. Police were searching through woods with dogs and flashlights.
Dozens of police officers gathered at Massachusetts General Hospital, where the injured officer was reportedly taken. Officers directing traffic asked those who arrived in a panic: “friend or family?” A few officers wept openly as they hurried into the emergency room.