Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Boston Bombing Follow-Up

Now that it's been more than two weeks since the bombing at the Boston Marathon and more than one week since the suspenseful killing/capture of the bombing suspects, I thought I would make a follow-up post with some of the additional details that have come to light in the past week. 

I'm going to start by going back to the evening of Thursday, April 19. The bombing suspects (26 and 19-year-old brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev) killed MIT police officer, Sean Collier, to allegedly get his firearm. After that, the brothers hijacked a car. I listened to an interesting news story on 20/20 last Friday that talked about what happened that evening. Here's my synopsis of the summary:

26-year-old "Danny" was at a gas station in his Mercedes Benz when Tamerlan carjacked him at gunpoint. Tamerlan boasted to Danny about being responsible for the Boston marathon bombing. "You remember that bombing at the Boston Marathon? I did it." He then pulled out a semi automatic weapon and showed Danny that it was loaded. Danny was then forced to drive through the streets of Boston and was told to stop and pick up another passenger; Dzhokhar. Danny was now carpooling with the two most wanted men on the planet. It wasn't until Danny saw Dzhokhar that he put two and two together and realized that the men who had carjacked him were the Boston Marathon bombing suspects that he'd been seen all over TV. The two brothers loaded Danny's Mercedes with explosives, including another one of those pressure cooker bombs.

The brothers robbed Danny, but he only had $45 which wasn't enough money for them, so they stopped at a gas station to withdraw some money from an ATM machine. (There is surveillance footage of Dzhokhar using Danny's bankcard at a gas station.) During the drive Danny said that the talk alternated between mundane guy talk and murderous threats. He said that Tamerlan was really gruff and abrasive , while Dzhokhar was goofier and marveling at Danny's "really cool" car. At one point during the abduction, Danny got a call on his cell phone and Tamerlan said, "If you say a word in Chinese, I'll kill you" (because he doesn't know Chinese and wouldn't have been able to understand anything Danny would've said). In English Danny told his Mandarin-speaking friend that he was "sick and staying with a friend." He quickly ended the phone call and Tamerlan said, "Good boy. Good job."

This is where the brazen carjacking started to go awry. The getaway car was out of gas, so they stopped at a Shell station in Cambridge, MA, to get gas. This was a risky move since the brothers are known in that town. While stopped at this gas station Danny made the decisive decision to run for it. Dzhokhar had gone into the gas station to pay for the gas, leaving Tamerlan and Danny in the car together. Danny realized that Tamerlan was playing with the car's GPS system and wasn't holding the gun anymore (he'd slipped it into the side pocket of the car door). Danny thought, "now's my chance to make a run for it." In his mind he rehearsed what he was going to escape. "Undo the seatbelt, open the door, get out, slam the door…"

Tamerlan grabbed for Danny as he got out of the car, but missed him. Danny made himself a moving target and ran across the street to another gas station. He ran in and told the clerk behind the counter to "call 911" and he ran into the back storeroom to hide. The clerk called 911 and the operator asked to speak with Danny. A few minutes later the place swarmed with police.

This was the break that law enforcement had been waiting for. Danny's cell phone was still in the car and the Mercedes itself had a built-in tracking beacon. The police were able to track the signals of the cell phone and the Mercedes and tracked the car to nearby Watertown. The police caught up with the Mercedes and engaged in a firefight with the brothers. Tamerlan was killed in this shootout with the police and Dzhokhar escaped.

So this sums up what happened during the carjacking that evening. It's really fortunate that the police were able to track the car because they say that the brothers were planning to head to New York City to set off more bombs in Times Square.

I also learned that Tamerlan spent six months in Russia last year, so now the police are investigating why he was there and what he was doing. The police are also looking into Tamerlan's personal life and what's been going on the past few years. Lots of his friends/acquaintances have said that he's really changed a lot in the past year or two, as far as his personality and his religious/political views. The police want to know the reason behind this, and his the reason for his radical thinking. Police are also trying to find out if there were other people indirectly responsible for the attack.

It's definitely been an interesting few weeks as more details have come to light about everything. I've also enjoyed hearing some of the survivor stories and how complete strangers came to the aid of those in need. There have also been lots of interviews with the survivors and how they are making sense of what's happened, how they are recovering/coping and what's in store for their future.


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