Tamerlan Tsarnaev was not a member of a local mosque, but began attending infrequently about a year ago, Vali said. His brother also attended.
While outbursts are unusual, they are not unheard of, said Vali and Imam William Suhaib Webb, of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury. The two local mosques are affiliated, but managed separately. “It was someone expressing their opinion,’’ Vali said. “There was nothing he said that would suggest he would kill a person.” The Cambridge mosque also said in a statement that “in their visits [the brothers] never exhibited any violent sentiments or behavior. Otherwise they would have been immediately reported to the FBI.”
Two days after Watertown became the site of a massive gunfight and manhunt, the police chief, Ed Deveau, gave the Globe a dramatic account of the 20 hours his community was under siege. He said that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was alive and struggling with Watertown police early Friday morning, when his younger brother drove over him in a stolen SUV, dragging him on the pavement and apparently inflicting the injuries that killed him.
The state medical examiner has not released an autopsy report detailing cause of death.
The chief said that after the brothers allegedly carjacked a vehicle in Cambridge, they let the driver out unharmed. But the driver’s cellphone was still in his car, said Deveau. Police “pinged” the phone to determine where it was, he said, which alerted police that the suspects were in Watertown.
A local officer spotted the brothers driving in two cars, a Honda sedan and the stolen SUV, said Deveau. The brothers stopped, jumped out, and started firing on the officer, while more police rushed to the scene. “Quickly we had six Watertown police officers and two bad guys in a gunfight,” Deveau said. At least 200 shots were fired; maybe as many as 300, he said.
The shots, around 12:50 a.m., woke resident Jennings Aske, at 66 Laurel Ave. When he looked out his window he saw a green Honda Civic sedan stopped in the street, with its lights on and the driver’s side windows blown out. A husky man — apparently Tamerlan Tsarnaev — stood nearby firing a gun. “I saw him standing there shooting at police,” Aske said. “When he fired, there was a little flash of light. I could hear the gun firing. It was terrifying.”
Deveau said the brothers hurled something at the officers — apparently a pressure cooker bomb — and there was a tremendous explosion. Police later found the lid to a pressure cooker. “We believe it was an exact duplicate of the Boston Marathon bombs,” he said. The suspects also threw five “crude grenades” at officers; three of which exploded, he said.
One of his officers put his cruiser into gear and jumped out of it, letting it roll at the suspects to draw fire, he said. The suspects peppered the car with bullets. After several minutes of fighting, Tamerlan moved toward the officers, firing his gun until he appeared to run out of bullets, Deveau said. Officers tackled him and were trying to handcuff him, when the stolen SUV came roaring at them, the younger brother at the wheel. The officers scattered and the SUV plowed over Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was dragged briefly under the car, he said.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev abandoned the SUV almost immediately and fled on foot, triggering an all-day manhunt.
Meanwhile, officers at the scene treated MBTA transit officer Richard H. Donohue Jr., who had arrived on the scene and was wounded in the gunfight. He was in critical but stable condition Sunday. Police searched the abandoned Civic with a robot, apparently looking for explosives, said Aske.
In the chaos of the shootout in Watertown, a state trooper fired at a passing Boston police unmarked SUV, according to two people familiar with the incident. No one was hurt when the trooper, apparently thinking the vehicle was the one stolen by the suspects, fired multiple rounds at the car, blowing out the back window.
Asked about the incident, State Police spokesman Dave Procopio said in an e-mail: “The investigation into deciphering the chaotic sequence of events in Watertown is far from completed. That includes the report you mentioned.”
On Sunday, the scene of the shootout on Dexter Avenue and Laurel Street had become a neighborhood attraction, drawing onlookers with cameras.
Houses were freckled with apparent bullet holes. The pavement was scorched with blast marks. Windows had been shot out of cars and beads of glass littered the ground.
Maria Cramer and Bryan Bender of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Derek Anderson, Jaclyn Reiss, and Sarah N. Mattero contributed to this report. Mark Arsenault can be reached at email@example.com