Community role shines through terrorist manhunt
by Gloucester Daily Times
“We got him! Thank God, we got him!”
With those words late Friday night, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino captured the spirit of just about everyone in Greater Boston, and really across the nation, upon the capture of accused Boston Marathon bombing terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Watertown.
And after the intense, exhaustive manhunt that brought a virtual lockdown of Boston and its immediate — and sent ripple effects up the silent commuter rail lines to Gloucester and Cape Ann — all of the police officers, SWAT teams and National Guard personnel, including police personnel deployed from Gloucester and Cape Ann's towns as part of two different regional response teams finally had reason to cheer and be cheered.
But Menino's “We got him” line, trumpeted acoss the top of the Times' Saturday morning front page, speaks to a much broader “we” than to the thousands of law enforcement personnel who spent days combing the chilling Marathon bombing scene, then — after a surreal chase and firefight in a crowded Watertown neighborhood — going door-to-door in their search for the suspect.
Despite all of their efforts, let us remember that — just when Friday's all-day manhunt seemed to be coming up empty, just as officials lifted the “shelter in place” order and the MBTA service shutdown — it was a simple call from a Watertown resident, a call from a man who had been shut in all day, then stepped outside and notice that someone had tampered with his shrink-wrapped boat, that finally led police to their man.
We should never forget that last Monday's horrific terrorist attacks that were clearly aimed at causing maximum harm not to the world's elite runners, who passed the finish line hours before the bombings, but to dedicated New Englanders and other Americans who ran for the sport of it, and who were watching their family members, friends and neighbors finish in a day of personal triumph.
Likewise, we can and should never forget that, in the end, it was rank-and-file Bostonians, New Englanders and especially a guy living in the heart of a Watertown neighborhood who helped track down these vicious killers, responding with countless tips after the FBI reached out for help with a video and photos showing the suspects, and a phone call that finally led police to the suspect when he was hiding in a boat stored behind a neighborhood home.
For all the understandable relief and downright exhilaration we all felt Friday night, we must remember that there are many questions still to be answered regarding these attacks, most notably how and why. And there are many lessons to be learned as well, especially regarding complacency and vigilance.
But one of the most important lessons shining throughout this saga is the importance of a cooperative spirit between a community and its police force. Indeed, considering Watertown and other residents' cooperation with an unprecedented, large-scale “shelter in place” order, and the tip that led to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's capture, this may be the ultimate example of what community policing can do.
That can mean the current stepped-up Gloucester community policing efforts launched by first-year-chief Leonard Campanello, who drew a full class for the department's new citizens police academy last month. It can also mean community police education efforts, like Thursday's planned social host law workshop hosted by the GPD and other groups at the Rose Baker Senior Center. And it can include outreach like the Gloucester School District's proposal for a school resources officer to build more positive interaction with Gloucester High students beginning next fall.
But true community policing can really be summed up in just a few words: a shared respect between police and residents, and one of community policing projects' trademark lines: “If you see something, say something.”
Thank God, in this case, enough people did.
Police: Bombing suspects planned more attacks
by Allen G Breed and Steve Peoples
BOSTON — As churches paused to mourn the dead and console the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing Sunday, the city's police commissioner said the two suspects had such a large cache of weapons that they were probably planning other attacks.
After the two brothers engaged in a gun battle with police early Friday, authorities surveying the scene of the shootout found it was loaded with unexploded homemade bombs. They also found more than 250 rounds of ammunition.
Police Commissioner Ed Davis said the stockpile was "as dangerous as it gets in urban policing."
"We have reason to believe, based upon the evidence that was found at that scene — the explosions, the explosive ordnance that was unexploded and the firepower that they had — that they were going to attack other individuals. That's my belief at this point." Davis told CBS's "Face the Nation."
On "Fox News Sunday," he said authorities cannot be positive there aren't more explosives that haven't been found. But the people of Boston are safe, he insisted.
The suspects are two ethnic Chechen brothers from southern Russia — 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan. Their motive remained unclear.
The older brother was killed during a getaway attempt. The younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, remained hospitalized in serious condition Sunday after his capture Friday from a tarp-covered boat in a suburban Boston backyard. Authorities would not comment on whether he had been questioned, but several officials have said Tsarnaev's injuries left him unable to communicate, at least for now.
Shots were fired from the boat, but investigators haven't determined where the gunfire was aimed, Davis said.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is tracing the weapons to try to determine how they were obtained by the suspects.
Tsarnaev could be charged as early as Sunday, although it was not clear what those charges would be. The twin bombings killed three people and wounded more than 180.
The most serious charge available to federal prosecutors would be the use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill people, which carries a possible death sentence. Massachusetts does not have the death penalty.
Across the rattled city, churches opened their doors to remember the dead and ease the grief of the living.
At the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in South Boston, photographs of the three people killed in the attack and an MIT police officer slain Thursday were displayed on the altar, the faces illuminated by glowing white pillar candles, one for each person lost.
"I hope we can all heal and move forward," said Kelly McKernan, who was crying as she left the service. "And obviously, the Mass today was a first step for us in that direction."
A six-block swath of Boylston Street, where the bombs were detonated, remained closed Sunday, though police at the scene told pedestrians it was expected to reopen before Monday morning.
Boston's historic Trinity Church could not host services Sunday because it was within the crime scene, but the congregation was invited to worship at the Temple Israel synagogue instead. The FBI allowed church officials a half-hour Saturday to go inside to gather the priests' robes, the wine and bread for Sunday's service.
Trinity's Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III offered a prayer for those who were slain "and for those who must rebuild their lives without the legs that they ran and walked on last week."
"So where is God when the terrorists do their work?" Lloyd asked. "God is there, holding us and sustaining us. God is in the pain the victims are suffering, and the healing that will go on. God is with us as we try still to build a just world, a world where there will not be terrorists doing their terrible damage."
Near the crime scene, Dan and Keri Arone were pushing their 11-week-old daughter, Alexandria in a stroller when they stopped along Newbury Street, a block from the bombing site, to watch investigators in white jumpsuits scour the pavement. Wearing his bright blue marathon jacket, Dan Arone said he had crossed the finish line 40 minutes before the explosions.
The Waltham, Mass., couple visited the area to leave behind pairs of their running shoes among the bouquets of flowers, hand-written signs and other gifts at a makeshift memorial on Boylston Street, near the police barriers.
"I thought maybe we'd somehow get some closure," Dan Arone said of leaving behind the sneakers. "But I don't feel any closure yet."
At Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, surgeons said the Boston transit police officer wounded in a shootout with the suspects had lost nearly all his blood, and his heart had stopped from a single gunshot wound that severed three major blood vessels in his right thigh.
Richard Donohue, 33, was in critical but stable condition. He is sedated and on a breathing machine but opened his eyes, moved his hands and feet and squeezed his wife's hand Sunday.
In New York, thousands of runners donned "I Run for Boston" bibs during a 4-mile run in Central Park, one of a number of races held around the world in support of the victims of the marathon bombings.
Thousands of runners in the London marathon offered their own tributes to Boston's dead and wounded. The race began after a moment of silence for the victims, and many competitors wore black armbands as a sign of solidarity. Two runners finished carrying a banner that read "For Boston."
Prosecutors face tough call on death penalty in Boston case
Reuters) - Federal prosecutors may seek the death penalty for the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, legal experts said on Sunday, though they cautioned that much will hinge on what emerges in the weeks ahead about him and his role in the attacks.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is in custody and in serious condition at a Boston hospital. Authorities are preparing to file charges against him in a case that has riveted national attention and that presents legal and political challenges.
Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, are suspected of setting off bombs at the crowded finish line of the marathon on Monday, killing three people and injuring 176. Tamerlan died early Friday after a shootout with police.
On television talk shows on Sunday, two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein of California and Charles Schumer of New York, advocated for federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
The decision on whether to do that or not could take weeks, experts said, as both prosecutors and defense attorneys present factors in favor of and against it.
"Just because it's a notorious case, doesn't mean they'll end up seeking the death penalty," said Peter Quijano, a criminal defense lawyer in New York City with extensive experience in capital cases.
If Tsarnaev is charged with a federal crime that is eligible for the death penalty, the U.S. attorney's office in Massachusetts will decide whether to recommend seeking the death penalty. Many mitigating factors will enter into that.
"His age, his apparent history of no involvement with the criminal justice system ... Also, he does not appear to have been the main mover. He does appear to have been following his brother," Quijano said.
Prosecutors must also consider evidence showing the crime was premeditated and the number of people hurt or killed.
DECISION FOR MAIN JUSTICE
While local prosecutors will make a recommendation, and defense attorneys will weigh in, the ultimate decision will land on the desk of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and his deputies at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
Such decisions carry political consequences, particularly in high-profile cases, legal experts said.
Michael Chertoff, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush, said the Justice Department will be cautious and "make a decision based on the appropriate factors, not on what people on the sidelines are getting on TV and urging them to do."
He added: "If someone commits an act of terror and kills Americans, my assumption is generally that there's a significant likelihood they will face the death penalty, unless there's some factor that makes it inappropriate or difficult."
A complicating factor might be whether Tsarnaev or his brother had any connection to an outside international group. If so, and Tsarnaev has valuable information, prosecutors might take the death penalty off the table as part of a plea bargain.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
If the government does pursue capital charges, it would not be the first time it has done so in a high-profile case involving what authorities have called an act of terrorism in the United States.
Since the United States reinstated the federal death penalty in 1988, only three prisoners have actually been put to death. One was Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted of bombing a federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1995.
That case, involving an attack by a U.S. citizen on American soil, is the most obvious parallel to Tsarnaev's, experts said.
Since September 11, 2001, many terrorism-related charges have involved conspiracies or plots, and not operational attacks.
If a capital case is brought against Tsarnaev, the final decision on a death sentence, if he is convicted, is normally left to a jury.
In 2006, a federal jury in Virginia rejected the death penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui, who was charged in connection with the September 11 conspiracy.
The Obama administration has signaled at least once before that it would seek the death penalty in a case involving terrorism charges.
In 2009, Holder said he planned to authorize federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty against suspects accused of participating in the September 11 attacks, including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
But the case was later moved from federal civilian court to a war crimes court at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. The defendants could face the death penalty in proceedings there.