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A wild night in Boston has ended with the death of one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing while the second suspect, his brother, remains at large.
Media outlets reported that the suspects, brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19 and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer and then car-jacked a Mercedes SUV, telling the driver they were the Boston Marathon bombers. With dozens of police vehicles on their tail they led police into the neighboring town of Watertown, where a massive shootout ensued leaving area homes riddled with bullets. One Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority officer was in critical condition and in surgery on Friday morning. The suspects were throwing home-made bombs and grenades from the window of the SUV. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the shootout; he was pronounced at 1:35 a.m. at Boston’s Beth Israel hospital.
The brothers are residents of Cambridge who emigrated legally from Chechnya more than ten years ago. The older brother, who was killed, attended Bunker Hill Community College.
Many of the networks’ lead anchors who were in Boston earlier this week and into Thursday for an interfaith service attended by President Barack Obama, had returned by the time the situation began to unfold late Thursday night. Today anchor Matt Lauer was in Waco on Friday morning to report on the deadly fertilizer plant explosion that killed more than a dozen people earlier this week. NBC’s Lester Holt remained in Boston. Cable news has been wall-to-wall since the wee hours of Friday morning; NBC’ Today went live beginning at 6am.
The city remains on lockdown Friday with all mass transit, universities and retail outlets closed. Taxis have been ordered off the streets and Amtrak service between Boston and Providence, R.I., has been suspended. And authorities have ordered more than 300,000 residents of Watertown and neighboring areas to stay inside. Police have warned residents of Watertown to stay inside and not come to the door for anyone save for clearly identifiable law enforcement. ABC News producer Megan Chuchmach was ordered to drop to the ground when law enforcement spotted her wearing a backpack.
“They told me they were suspicious of my backpack,” Chuchmach explained on ABC.
Police on the scene were reportedly avoiding use of cell phones for fear that they might trigger bombs. And they believe that remaining suspect may be armed with an arsenal of explosives.
Added Brian Ross, who was on the scene in Boston: “One of our producers was even told, ‘Keep your cell phones off if you want to stay alive.’”
Multiple media outlets reported that the older brother, Tamerlan studied engineering at Bunker Hill Community College, which is in Charlestown. And as the media awaited further developments in the case, the discussion turned to motivations for the bombing and an attempt to get a fuller picture of how the suspects were viewed by their community.
“All I know about Bunker Hill Community College is that’s where Robin Williams taught in Good Will Hunting,” said CNN’s Jake Tapper, referring the Ben Affleck-Matt Damon film.
“If you’re from around here,” explained his colleague John Berman, who is from Boston and attended Harvard, “it is a very good place to get an education for less money.”
CNN reached a man who said he went to Cambridge Rindge & Latin high school with a Dzhokhar. The man, Eric Machado, told Berman and Tapper, who are in Boston, that Dzhokhar was currently attending the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and worked at Harvard as a lifeguard.
“He didn’t show any evidence that would lead any of us to believe he would be capable of something like this,” said Machado. “To think he’s capable of something like this is beyond belief.”
The sentiment was echoed in multiple interviews with those who said they went to high school classmates of Dzhokhar. Sierra Schwartz told Today‘s Savannah Guthrie that he was on the wrestling team. “He was very normal,” she said. “He had lots of friends.”
CBS affiliate WBZ reached a man who said he was the brothers uncle. “I heard he’s not been in school,” said Ruslan Tsarni, referring to the 26-year-old Tamerlan. “I would call him a loser.”
Meanwhile, in the background of myriad live shots from Watertown and Cambridge heavily armed SWAT, tactical and bomb squad teams can be seen asking media to put their cameras down. ABC’s Byron Pitts was ushered off of Norfolk Street in East Cambridge, where authorities believe the suspects lived.
At 9:01 a.m., George Stephanopoulos announced to Good Morning America viewers that the broadcast would go on a delay from the scene explaining that police asked media not to do so in order to protect tactical positions.
All three morning shows – Today, GMA and CBS This Morning – have continued live coverage into the 10 a.m. hour. CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley joined CTM‘s Charlie Rose and Gayle King at the anchor desk. World News anchor Diane Sawyer also appeared at the GMA anchor desk alongside Stephanopoulos sometime after 10 a.m. All three evening newscasts will expand to one hour on Friday. NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams will dedicate its regular 10 p.m. hour to the developments in the case. CBS News will program a special 9 p.m. hour on the bombing and Elizabeth Vargas will anchor a special edition of ABC’s 20/20 from Boston at 10 p.m.
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