WATERTOWN, Mass. — Police officers and firefighters stood grim-faced with guns and rifles, lining the street leading to the suburban property where a suspect in twin bombings at the Boston Marathon was believed to be holed up.
Reporters and spectators lined up on the other side. The mood was tense, with the few neighbors who ventured out hugging and crying as they heard bangs. Others merely looked on curiously.
Then, one officer slowly started clapping. Then it spread to the crowd. Then loud cheers broke out.
People in the crowd started asking, "Is he alive?" One of the officers nodded, yes. Any time a first responder emerged from the street, there was loud applause.
"They finally caught the jerk," said nurse Cindy Boyle, 41. "It was scary; it was tense." She said she knew when police started clapping that everything would be all right.
The suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was taken to a hospital after engaging in a firefight with police while hiding out in a parked boat. Earlier that day, about a mile away, his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had been killed in a gun battle and car chase during which he and his younger brother hurled explosives at police from a stolen car, authorities said.
During the getaway attempt, the brothers killed an MIT policeman and severely wounded another officer, authorities said. The younger brother managed to escape and was found in the boat hours later.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this would result in a shootout in Watertown," said Sheamus McGovern, of neighboring Belmont.
McGovern had been startled overnight when he heard "what sounded like firecrackers, last night after one, and then pure bedlam." He could hear the helicopters overhead all day.