Police Press On With Search For Suspect

The scene in suburban Boston early Friday was chaotic. Police were going house to house in Watertown as they searched for "suspect No. 2" in the bombings.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We are going to turn to the city of Boston now, where we have seen an astonishing turn of events, all overnight and all morning, in the Boston Marathon bombings investigation. One of the suspects in the bombings was killed after leading police on a wild chase. The other is the target of an intense manhunt that has shut down the city.

The authorities are telling residents of Boston and all the surrounding areas to stay in their homes. The manhunt, as we understand it, is focusing right now on different neighborhoods in the suburb of Watertown, Massachusetts. And we're joined now by Curt Nickisch, a reporter with member station with WBUR. And Curt, what's the latest?

CURT NICKISCH, BYLINE: Well, we're about to hear the latest, hopefully. State officials have begun setting up to have a press conference. We're hearing that the mayor may well be speaking. And I think the really interesting thing about this is that this whole area where the press conference is being held is lined with state troopers.

At first when they assembled behind the microphones where people would be speaking, they were facing forward, and I thought, oh, that's just a nice backdrop for the cameras. So it's not a show. It's a show of force, and it's a show of public safety, because they're basically protecting this area. They've also brought in bomb-sniffing dogs through to smell cameras and gear.

And the message from officials so far really has been to be safe, to stay inside and stay away from the doors and windows and only open it if a uniformed officer is there.

GREENE: And Curt, just clear this up for me if you can. This press conference, is it taking place close enough to where we think there's police activity that they would feel the need to kind of have police officers surrounding the area to protect people at this briefing?

NICKISCH: Absolutely. We're talking as little as three or four hundred yards from potentially areas that could be areas that they'd be looking at. But we are right at the - sort of at the edge of East Watertown, where this search is really centered.

GREENE: Well, hopefully we'll hear from Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino and other authorities soon to answer some of the remaining questions, which are numerous. It sounds like it has just been an unbelievably dramatic morning in Boston. I mean stepping back, just imagining a major American city in total lockdown mode, and we'll talk about that in a moment.

Right now we're going to turn to the press conference. We understand that we're about to hear from...

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Is that on the record?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yeah, that's on the record. They may have had it at the time of the MIT. I'm not 100 percent sure.

GREENE: OK, we're still waiting for this news conference to start. We're expecting to hear from Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino. And Curt, describe the morning for us, if you can. We've heard that there are residents of Watertown who have seen SWAT teams in their backyard. I mean just unimaginable.

NICKISCH: Yeah, absolutely. They've seen bomb-sniffing robots in their neighbors' backyards. They're hearing police on megaphones, but they're sort of torn because they've been told to stay inside, go into the cellar and stay away from windows. And then when police come through with megaphones, they're not sure if they should go to the windows to listen.

So you can imagine how harrowing it is for people who know that there are many people out there trying to protect them but also know there's a risk that's involved.

GREENE: All right, Curt Nickisch, stay on the line with us if you can as we await this press conference. We're joined in the studio by NPR's counterterrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston. And Dina, such little information. You have done some extraordinary reporting this morning, getting any bits of information we can. What are you waiting to hear from this next briefing from officials, the mayor and others in Boston?

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: Well, I think we're waiting to hear more details on both these men: how long they've been in the United States, whether or not there's any hint that they came to the United States with any sort of intention of doing something bad here. They've been here for five years.

So I think what I'm going to be listening for is whether or not there was some sort of radicalizing event here in the United States which would make them more reminiscent of the kind of homegrown terrorists we've had in the past, which they come here perhaps with no intention, but it's a very difficult transition for them.

And we know for the older brother it appears to have been a difficult transition for him. He said in a particular photo essay, article, that the captions in this photo essay quoted him as saying that he had no American friends and he doesn't understand Americans. I mean that's almost a classic statement from someone who ends up being radicalized in this country.

So I think that's going to be one of the really key questions. And were they radicalized by the Internet, one of the things that has happened increasingly? Was it the older brother who had this trouble? Because it seems like the younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev...

GREENE: Who is 19 years old, and we believe he is the person that the police are searching for right now.

TEMPLE-RASTON: He's the one they're searching for right now. By everyone we have spoken to about him, he was popular in high school, he was a great athlete. He seemed to have lots of friends. But then again we see in these radicalization cases, and again, this is just trying to figure out, trying to put the pieces together, we see in these radicalization cases often you have an older person who convinces a younger person that this is the right thing to do.

GREENE: And again, we don't know any of the details here about whether or not they were radicalized. We're learning so much, and there are so many unanswered questions. But we should say in the context of what you just said, there's a 19-year-old that police are searching for. His 26-year-old brother, who was the boxer you were talking about, we believe was killed overnight in a shootout with police.

TEMPLE-RASTON: He was shot and killed with a shootout with police and was wearing an explosive device on his chest with a trigger, which implies a suicide vest of some sort.

GREENE: And what is the significance of that fact when it comes to people investigating this?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, you know, every - this has been a slow sort of rollout in which they've said that the bombs that were found at - or the exploded bombs that were found at the marathon were quite rudimentary. At the same time, they were very powerful. They were a bomb that - actually, the recipe for this bomb, which is, it was done in a rice cooker with explosives and blasting caps and timers, the recipe for this bomb had come from an al-Qaida magazine, an online magazine.

Now, there are lots of links on the Web to these bombs, but these are still, these are little pieces of information that they're trying to put together so that they can get a full picture of how this unfolded.

GREENE: Yeah, my colleague Steve Inskeep I think puts it well: We are collecting a lot of dots and not yet able to connect many of them.

TEMPLE-RASTON: That's right.

GREENE: Dina Temple-Raston, thanks so much. We'll be hearing much more from you during the day. And very briefly Curt Nickisch, let me turn back to you. Any changes there on the scene? I know we're awaiting a press conference, and you said that there are police officers who are surrounding it to kind of protect this area where we're going to have a news briefing.

NICKISCH: Yeah, it's pretty much the same as just a few minutes ago. Around here they've made a few brief sort of administrative statements. They did say that the governor would be arriving soon, but they didn't give a specific timeframe.

GREENE: That would be Governor Duvall Patrick, who we heard from earlier today, and we're also expecting to hear from Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino as the story unfolds and continues in Boston. Curt Nickisch from member station WBUR, thanks so much.

NICKISCH: Of course.

GREENE: And we will continue to follow this story. Again, just to restate the news in case you're just hearing it first, police are still on the hunt for one of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. He is apparently a young man from Chechnya. His brother was killed by police overnight. It has been a dramatic situation over the last 12 hours in the city of Boston and the surrounding neighborhoods, where residents are still being told to remain in their homes to be safe. You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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