“Can you gather a team and be ready in 5 minutes?” the federal commander asked.
“Roger that,” Campbell replied.
Meantime, other officers with rifles took up sniper positions around and above the house. Alerts from the air confirmed continued movement in the boat.
“We’re putting some dummy rounds into the boat. So nobody should be firing, OK,’’ one commander shouted. “These are just dummy rounds being fired into the boat so everybody hold fire, all right?’’
There were warnings about the dangers of booby traps, about 20 gallons on gasoline aboard the boat, and the perils of crossfire in close quarters. Scene commanders did their best to shoo away the knots of eager officers who had clogged the area. Tactical is taking over, they broadcast. Everyone else, leave the scene.
A heavily armored vehicle approached the boat.
“State Police are putting their extended ram on the front of their armor,’’ officers were told. “They’re going to try to make their way into the back yard. They’re going to try to rip the tarp off the boat. . . . If they’re able to successfully rip that off, he’ll be fully exposed.’’
Dzhokhar was spotted on his back. “He picked his arm up. His arm is covered in blood,’’ an officer announced. “He put it in the air. He brought it back down to his chest. He’s on the left side of the boat when you’re looking at it from the driveway.’’
Officers were ordered to keep off their radios.
“We know you’re in there,’’ police yelled. “Come out on your own terms. Come out with your hands up.’’
Dzhokhar’s capture was orchestrated by the state police SWAT and FBI’s hostage rescue teams under the direction of a blue jean-wearing FBI agent sent from headquarters in Virginia. His name was never released to the public, but he remained calm in the command trailer, spitting tobacco as he oversaw the high stakes negotiations.
“For what [the suspect] put us through over last four days — devices, handguns — we had to assume he possibly had bombs on there [the boat],’’ said Evans. “He might have had a suicide vest. He might have had handguns. The poking at the tarp indicated to me he was either trying to break the tarp or poke a firearm through there.
“We didn’t know what he had, but given what he did at the scene of the Marathon, given what he did during the shoot-out, and given what he did to the MIT officer, we knew we were dealing with a serious terrorist here who had weapons to the max. We didn’t know what we were going to walk into.”
In short order, the tactical team began its advance on the boat.
A Malden Police SWAT officer led the way, holding a black Kevlar shield. Behind him, in single file, was another Malden Police SWAT officer, carrying an M4 carbine. They were followed by Transit SWAT officers Campbell, Saro Thompson, 33, Kenny Tran, 35, and Brian Harer, 44. All wore Kevlar helmets and carried submachine guns.
The team headed down the driveway toward the boat at a normal walking pace. An earpiece tethered them to a command post.
“Watch his hands,” they reminded each other.
As daylight slowly faded, Harer shouted: “Show us your hands and get down off the boat.”
Dzhokhar was ordered to lift his shirt, but did not respond.
“To me he was refusing our command,” Campbell would later recall. “That meant we had to go get him.”
Dzhokhar was lying on his stomach, straddling the side of the boat, wearing jeans and a hoodie. His left arm and left leg hung over the boat’s side. He appeared to struggle for consciousness.
It was unclear whether he had firearms or explosive devices or had rigged the boat to explode. His face was bloody. He appeared exhausted, in need of urgent medical care.
As team members studied his movements, Dzhokhar’s hands shot up in a surrender gesture. Still, he rocked left and right, his right hand intermittently dipping out of view.
Is he reaching for a weapon? Campbell wondered.
The team was now within eight feet. And when both hands appeared again, the team struck.
“We broke from behind the shield and went after him,” Campbell recalled. “It took only a second or two to get him off the boat.”
Campbell reached up over his head — at a height of about 7 feet — and using both hands he grabbed Dzhokhar’s left arm and left leg and in one motion hauled him down to the grassy ground.
Dzhokhar, on his stomach, was frisked and then flipped over.
Blood covered the left side of his face. His left ear was severely wounded and bleeding. There was a bleeding cut — a 2-inch slice as if hit by shrapnel — on the front of his neck, just below his chin. Blood flowed from a substantial wound in his thigh.Continued...