Police chief: Boston manhunt began with intense firefight in dark street

Saturday, April 20, 2013 - 1:21pm

BOSTON, MA (CNN) — Handguns, a rifle and at least six bombs -- three of which exploded -- were found at the scene early Friday after officers first confronted the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects in the darkness of a residential street, the Watertown, Massachusetts, police chief said Saturday in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

A single officer was the first to encounter the two cars that Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev were driving, just before 1 a.m. Friday, Chief Edward Deveau said. One of the vehicles was a Mercedes sport utility vehicle the brothers carjacked earlier that night, he said.

Before the officer could get backup, the two cars stopped, and the brothers got out.

"They jump out of the car and unload on our police officer," Deveau said "They both came out shooting -- shooting guns, handguns. He's under direct fire, very close by. He has to jam it in reverse and try to get himself a little distance."

Five other police officers, including two who had just finished their shifts, then arrived at what Deveau called a "very tight area" in the middle of an intense shootout.

"We estimate there was over 200 shots fired in a five- to 10-minute period," Deveau said.

One of the brothers threw an explosive at the officers. They later discovered it was a pressure cooker bomb, similar to the ones used at the marathon Monday, the chief said.

"We find the pressure cooker embedded in the car down the street, so there's a major explosion during this gunfight (with) my officers -- six of my officers that I'm extremely proud of," Deveau said.

The brothers also allegedly threw other explosives at the officers. "They were lighting them and throwing them," Deveau said, adding they were "very rough devices."

Two exploded and two did not. Police later found a sixth explosive in one of the cars.

At one point, the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, came directly toward police, Deveau said.

"He all of a sudden comes out from under cover and just starts walking down the street, shooting at our police officers, trying to get closer," Deveau said. "Now, my closest officer is five to 10 feet away, and they're exchanging gunfire between them. And he runs out of ammunition -- the bad guy -- and so one of my police officers comes off the side and tackles him in the street.

"We're trying to get him handcuffed. There's two or three police officers handcuffing him in the street -- the older brother. At the same time, at the last minute -- they obviously have tunnel vision, it's a very, very stressful situation -- one of them yells out, 'Look out!' and here comes the black SUV, the carjacked car, directly at them. They dive out of the way, and he (the younger brother) drives over his brother and drags him a short distance down the street."

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Officers then saw that a transit police officer who arrived after the first five was shot in the groin during the firefight.

The younger brother drove off amid more gunfire, Deveau said. He got two or three streets away, with officers in pursuit, then dumped the car and ran into the darkness, he said.

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