Narrative of Events

The Marathon:

The Boston Marathon is an annual 26.2-mile-long race starting in Hopkinton, MA, and ends on Boylston Street in the heart of Boston. It is one of the six major marathons worldwide, alongside the New York City, Chicago, Berlin, London, and Tokyo marathons. It is the world’s oldest marathon, having first been held in 1897. It is held annually on Patriot’s Day, the third Monday in April, in commemoration of the American Revolutionary War Battles of Lexington and Concord (Britannica).

The Bombings:

On April 15, 2013, five hours into the 117th Boston Marathon, tragedy struck. Two homemade pressure-cooker bombs, filled with shrapnel and hidden in backpacks, exploded 12 seconds apart near the finish line of the marathon. Three people were killed and more than 260 were wounded, with injuries varying from ruptured ear drums to lost limbs.



The Manhunt:

Following the initial blasts, the FBI, Massachusetts State Police, local police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), began to examine the bombings (Garber, 2015). There were no initial suspects in mind, however, after three days of combing through cellphone video footage and security footage, the FBI was able to identify two men as the primary suspects: Chechen-American brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The FBI released surveillance images of the brothers on April 18th, asking the public for help in identifying these men:



That same evening the images were released, 26-year-old MIT police officer Sean Collier was fatally shot in his patrol car (NBC). This was later connected to the Tsarnaev brothers. Following their killing of the police officer, the two brothers continued on to hijack a man’s car in Cambridge and keep him hostage (CNN). The man was able to escape when they got to a gas station and inform local law enforcement about what had just happened. Local law enforcement came face-to-face with the Tsarnaev brothers in Watertown, MA and a shootout ensued. The brothers threw explosive and exchanged fire with the police officers until Tamerlan was shot and injured. Dzhokhar fled in their stolen vehicle, running over his brother. Tamerlan was pronounced dead in Beth Israel Hospital later that night (CNN). After Dzhokhar escapes, an extensive manhunt ensued. The city of Boston and surrounding suburbs were placed on lockdown, all public transit was closed, and people were told to shelter in their homes. During the evening of the day of the manhunt, a Watertown man went into his backyard to check on his boat when he spotted “a man covered in blood under the tarp” (CNN); Dzhokhar had been located. Law enforcement officials confirmed that Dzhokhar had in fact been located and after a long stand-off, Dzhokhar was taken into custody.



On April 8, 2015, Tsarnaev was found guilty on all thirty counts of the indictment, with charges including the usage of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, in addition to aiding and abetting. These charges made Tsarnaev eligible for the death penalty. However, this ruling was overturned this past summer (2020), as the defense successfully argued that Dzhokhar did not receive a fair trial due to the fact that it was impossible to find a non-biased jury in the city of Boston (npr). He is currently serving a life sentence in a Supermax prison in Colorado (BBC).