– First there was a burst of gunfire. Then a series of blasts. Then, less than an hour later, cheers.
After nearly 24 hours of a massive manhunt for one Boston Marathon bombing suspect that terrorized several cities and riveted a nation, the shouting and applause on the streets of Watertown, Massachusetts, was a welcome sign of victory.
Police shouted, “Yay!” Neighbors clapped.
Residents and reporters who had been anxiously waiting on a nearby corner saw a concrete sign of progress.
Police began leaving the backyard of a Watertown home where suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev was holed up in a boat.
A law enforcement vehicle with tinted windows drove by the crowd.
“Is that him?” someone asked, wondering whether investigators were leaving with the suspect in custody.
A police officer said, “Yes” — and the crowd of residents erupted in cheers again.
Minutes later, a series of Twitter posts from the Boston Police Department trumpeted the news.
“CAPTURED!!!” one post said. “The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.”
In Watertown, SWAT teams shouted over a loudspeaker to the crowd: “Thank you thank you! It was a pleasure! USA! USA!”
The crowd joined in.
Watertown resident Mary Sullivan was among those cheering.
She was walking her young black Labrador, Lucy, when gunshots rang out in her neighborhood on Friday.
She waited for word on the fate of the suspect at the corner of Franklin and Mount Auburn with dozens of other residents.
“I’m glad it’s over,” she said. “The city and the people have gone through so much pain over these irrational decisions of these young men.”
Jubilant crowds celebrated beyond Watertown’s borders.
Students poured into the streets near Boston’s Northeastern University, hugging each other, waving American flags and chanting, “Let’s go Boston!” and “USA, USA!”
Myles Marcus, a student at Berklee College of Music, said he was relieved and happy to join the celebration.
“We’ve all been watching the TV, the computer, the live updates since the beginning of this whole thing,” he said. “I just feel relieved. I feel like I can go back to school now and know that I’m safe.”
Thousands of miles away, on a packed Delta 757 flying from Atlanta to Chicago, a flight attendant made an announcement over the intercom.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “we just wanted to give you an update on Boston. Police have the suspect in custody. He’s alive.”
Sarah-Ann Soffer, 30, gave the flight attendant the news after seeing it on Twitter. Finding out the news and sharing it with her fellow passengers was an experience she says she’ll never forget.
“Everyone you could tell was just like holding in their breath at that moment. You could tell there was that kind of sigh of relief. You could breathe again,” she said. “It was one of these moments, where you know where you are when they happen. … I wasn’t sitting on my couch. I was 30,000 feet above the ground, witnessing history.”
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