Was Suspect #2 Outside the Search Perimeter or Not?

(This is the 3rd of 4 long posts I’ve written on this subject. The last one is here:  https://whereofonecanspeak.com/2013/04/25/stop-me-before-i-write-about-the-boston-manhunt-again/

Henceforth, I — your humble blogger — plan to return to more mundane subjects, like politics, philosophy, rock music and buying hot dogs.)

The Associated Press released a long article on April 21 called “Five Days of Fear: What Happened in Boston”. It’s been published by a number of newspapers and websites.

Here’s what the article has to say about the Watertown gun battle and manhunt (I’ve edited out some extraneous text):

“It was past 11 p.m. now, and as the Mercedes sped west into Watertown, one of (Chief) Deveau’s officers spotted it and gave chase, realizing too late he was alone against the brothers driving two separate cars. When both vehicles came to a halt, Deveau said, the men stepped out and opened fire. Three more officers arrived, then two who were off-duty, fending off a barrage. When a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer, Richard Donohue, pulled up behind them, a bullet to the groin severed an artery and he went down.

“We’re in a gunfight, a serious gunfight,” Deveau said. “Rounds are going and then all of the sudden they see something being thrown at them and there’s a huge explosion.

As the firefight continued, Tamerlan Tsarnaev moved closer and closer to the officers, until less than 10 feet separated them, continuing to shoot even as he was hit by police gunfire, until finally he ran out of ammunition and officers tackled him, Deveau said. But as they struggled to cuff the older brother, he said, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev jumped back in the second vehicle.

“All of the sudden somebody yelled ‘Get out of the way!’ and they (the 6 or 7 officers) look up and here comes the black SUV that’s been hijacked right at them. They dove out of the way at the last second and he ran over his brother, dragged him down the street and then fled,” he said.

But after all the gunfire, the younger Tsarnaev had vanished. Officers, their guns drawn, moved through the neighborhood of wood-frame homes and cordoned off the area as daylight approached.

At 8:30 a.m., Jonathan Peck heard helicopters circling above his house (at 128) Cypress Street and looked outside to see about 50 armed men. “It seemed like Special Forces teams were searching every nook and cranny of my yard,” he said.

Unable to find Tsarnaev, authorities announced they were shutting down not just Watertown, but all of Boston and many of its suburbs, affecting more than 1 million people.

But as the hours went by, and the house-to-house search continued, investigators found no sign of their quarry. Finally, at about 6:30 p.m., they announced the shutdown had been lifted.”


There is no mention of where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (suspect #2) drove the SUV (although it’s been reported that he drove it only 6 or 7/10ths of a mile down Laurel St. as it turns into Spruce St. and then walked away on foot).

There is no indication that any of the officers used their own cars to pursue the SUV as Tsarnaev drove away.

“Officers … moved through the neighborhood … and cordoned off the area as daylight approached.” It’s not clear from this whether “as daylight approached” applies to the officers moving through neighborhood or merely to officers cordoning off the area, but the sun rose at 5:47 a.m., some 5 hours after the gun battle.

A resident says that he heard helicopters overhead and saw armed officers searching around his house at 8:30 a.m., about 3 hours after the sun rose.

The person quoted in the article lives at 138 Cypress Street (according to the White Pages). That is very near the site of the gun battle (according to some reports). If that address was in the 20-block search perimeter, the police were searching east of School Street, which conflicts with other reports claiming that the search area was to the west of School Street (closer to where the SUV was abandoned). 

In an interview transcribed by ABC News, Chief Deveau is quoted as follows:

“We know he didn’t go straight to the boat. We found blood in the car he abandoned and we found blood in a house inside the perimeter. We had no information that he had gotten outside the perimeter, but it was very chaotic this morning. We had a police officer who was shot and bleeding … We had a perimeter that we thought was solid and we did that but we were about one block away.”


I can’t tell from this whether Deveau is referring to blood in the SUV that was abandoned west of School Street (near where Tsarnaev was captured), or the Honda that Tsarnaev abandoned east of School Street during the gun battle. Or where or when blood was found in a house within the perimeter.

The only police officer who was shot and bleeding was injured during the gun battle that occurred before midnight. Does this mean that the police had set up a perimeter some time after midnight and not when dawn was approaching, as the Associated Press story indicates? And that Tsarnaev, bleeding, entered a house somewhere near the abandoned SUV, and then left the house and walked west, avoiding detection as he crossed the perimeter, eventually finding the boat on Franklin Street?

All I can conclude from all this is that the police didn’t pursue Tsarnaev when he drove away from the gun battle. Then they set up a perimeter at some point between midnight and dawn, which may have included the site of the gun battle, but supposedly didn’t include 67 Franklin Street, 2/10ths of a mile west of the SUV, where Tsarnaev was eventually captured.  

It’s not clear whether they found blood in a house before or after they set up their 20-block search perimeter. Or whether Tsarnaev walked to Franklin Street before or after they set up the search perimeter. Or where exactly the search perimeter was.

In the map below, point A is where a resident says he saw police searching his yard, point B is where the gun battle occurred the night before, point C is where Tsarnaev dumped the SUV after the gun battle, and point D is where he was captured. Why the police would be doing a door-to-door search where there was a gun battle instead of including more ground near the abandoned SUV is still a mystery, if that’s what they actually did.

By the way, the Associated Press is now reporting that police recovered only one handgun at the scene of the gun battle (during which police claimed 250 shots were fired) and that Tsarnaev was not armed when he was captured (which means he didn’t shoot at anyone from the boat, or try to kill himself in the boat, as suggested in some reports).


“War is an area of uncertainty; three quarters of the things on which all action in War is based are lying in a fog of uncertainty to a greater or lesser extent.” — Carl von Clausewitz

Plus, people make stuff up.