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SWAT team members describe capturing Boston bombing suspect

April 23, 2013|By Seema Mehta

As SWAT officers moved in to capture Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was hiding in a boat parked in a residential backyard, they didn’t know whether he had a gun or explosives that he could use against them.

So they approached from behind a Kevlar shield, focusing intently on the suspect's hands.

"You could see one hand was clear of any weapons, but each time he went the other way, his hand went down inside the boat, out of our view. And I know everybody here -- we've spoken about it. Each time he did that, we had to assume that he was reaching for either a weapon, a firearm, or some type of explosive ignition device to try to draw us in and then take us out in a suicide-type manner," Officer Jeff Campbell of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority said on CNN on Monday.

FULL COVERAGE: Boston Marathon attack

But the team of officers and detectives kept approaching, eventually getting close enough to see both hands were empty.

"We broke away from the shield protective cover and just rushed him," Campbell said.

After cuffing Tsarnaev, who was in and out of consciousness because of blood loss, the officers examined his body for explosives and found none. But they feared that he could have rigged the boat.

"As soon as he was checked and handcuffed, we just picked him up and ran like hell to get away from that boat," Campbell said.

PHOTOS: Manhunt in Boston

Officer Saro Thompson told CBS on Tuesday morning that the events of that night "ran like a movie through" her head, with the sweetest moment coming when they could tell Officer Richard Donohue, who was injured in a gun battle with Tsarnaev and his brother, that they had captured him.

"We walked into his room and we told him, 'We got him.' And it does feel good after a while," Thompson said.

ALSO:

Boston suspect tells FBI he and brother acted alone

'He is now at peace,' say parents of youngest bombing victim

Bombing suspect bought reloadable mortar-shell fireworks kits

seema.mehta@latimes.com

Twitter:@LATSeema


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