WATERTOWN, Mass. —
Queries cascaded in after authorities released the surveillance-camera photos — the FBI website was overwhelmed with 300,000 hits per minute — but what role those played in the overnight clash was unclear. State police spokesman Dave Procopio said police realized they were dealing with the bombing suspects based on what the two men told a carjacking victim during their night of crime.
The search by thousands of law enforcement officers all but shut down the Boston area for much of the day. Officials halted all mass transit, including Amtrak trains to New York, advised businesses not to open and warned close to 1 million people in the city and some of its suburbs to unlock their doors only for uniformed police.
Around midday, the suspects' uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md., pleaded on television: "Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness."
Until the younger man's capture, it was looking like a grim day for police. As night fell, they announced that they were scaling back the hunt and lifting the stay-indoors order across the region because they had come up empty-handed.
But then the break came and within a couple of hours, the search was over. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured about a mile from the site of the shootout that killed his brother.
A neighbor described how heavily armed police stormed by her window not long after the lockdown was lifted — the rapid gunfire left her huddled on the bathroom floor on top of her young son.
"I was just waiting for bullets to just start flying everywhere," Deanna Finn said.
When at last the gunfire died away and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken from the neighborhood in an ambulance, an officer gave Finn a cheery thumbs-up.
"To see the look on his face, he was very, very happy, so that made me very, very happy," she said.