We were awakened Friday morning to the largest manhunt in United States history, and for the first time, a major U.S. city, with a population in metro Boston, Cambridge and Watertown, of more than 4 million residents, was put on lock down. Businesses closed, transit stopped, taxi cabs pulled from the street. No subways. No ferries. Outbound flights stopped. Residents were ordered to seek shelter in place, a Homeland Security term that means stay at home or work but stay indoors not opening up the door for anyone but identified law enforcement.
They were searching door to door for 19-year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev, who has lived in America since he was eight. His brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed by law enforcement in the day’s earlier hours after the two attempted to rob a convenience store, hijacked a car and killed an MIT security guard in cold blood while he sat in his vehicle.
While cities have been gripped by fear in the past, most recently the Washington, D.C., area by snipers Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad in late 2002. The similarity between Malvo and Muhammad and the brothers accused of the bombing the Boston Marathon are the ages and familial connections, even imagined. Malvo was only 17 years old, while Muhammed, 41, received death for his crimes and was executed in 2009. Malvo is serving six life sentences without the possibility of parole.
While we know little about the older Tsarnaev brother’s demeanor, the younger brother was described by friends who knew him as a fun-loving, smart athlete who encouraged others on his team and did charity work after he entered college. But as of Friday evening, his guilt was hard to avoid.
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The manhunt was hours old and several people, including his uncle, friends and former coach, pleaded for him to give himself up.
Authorities obviously wanted to capture him alive, and they did. Everyone wants to simply know -- why? How does a seemingly sane, talented student turn into a terrorist willing to take the lives of people he never met? What is his grudge?
We live in a difficult world. We may never know what was going on in their lives for them to attempt, with some success, an attack on the longest-running marathon in the country. But now we have a chance to find out. Bravo to law enforcement.
We all feel a sense of relief, nowhere greater than in the Boston area. For all who believe government gets everything wrong, at least in this instance, look what they got right. And Boston residents and the rest of the country have reason to applaud.