POLICE hunting the Boston Marathon bomber had a teenage suspect in custody early today after he was captured hiding in a boat in the back yard of a house.
A burst of gunfire was followed by a dramatic stand-off as officers rushed to the Watertown district of the city, minutes after declaring a city-wide lockdown had been lifted. The suspect, thought to be Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (19), a Muslim immigrant from the Caucasus, was wounded during the confrontation.
He was taken for medical treatment shortly before 2am Irish time.
It was the culmination of a massive manhunt lasting almost 24 hours which saw Dzhokhar's older brother and fellow suspect Tamerlan (26) shot dead. A college police officer was killed and another seriously injured in a series of dramatic incidents. Boston was under siege as Dzhokhar went on the run after escaping an initial shoot-out, driving over his brother in his haste to get away.
The lead appeared to have gone cold as an evening press conference suggested that he had slipped the net, and told residents that a city-wide lockdown had been lifted.
But it is understood police were alerted to the presence of the suspect hiding in the boat after an observant homeowner noticed a trail of blood nearby.
A police helicopter with thermal imaging was then used to confirm the man's location in the back yard on Franklin Street.
Gunfire was heard in the area, followed by a rush of police cars and armoured vehicles.
Dozens of armed officers converged on the address.
Police stepped up the search after Dzhokhar had earlier mounted a violent last stand with his brother Tamerlan, when they were found just a mile from the site of the blasts that killed three people on Monday.
Tamerlan was killed in the first gun battle with police, which unfolded during the early hours of yesterday morning after the brothers shot dead policeman Sean Collier and stole a car at gunpoint.
It also emerged that the brothers were confronted by police after a bizarre coincidence where they were at a convenience store at the same time as a robbery.
The suspects had earlier been identified by a series of images captured by photographers at Monday's marathon, which was the target of the bombs.
It resulted in a violent confrontation early yesterday involving reports of thrown explosives and Dzhokhar driving over his own brother in his haste to escape.
Tensions mounted in the city throughout the day after Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick ordered the population to lock themselves in their homes while Dzhokhar remained at large.
Businesses were asked not to open and people waiting at bus stops and train stations were told to return home.
"We believe this to be a terrorist," said Ed Davis, the Boston police commissioner. "We believe this to be a man here to kill people." Dzhokhar was able to slip through a dragnet of police activity after the initial clashes, and is understood to have abandoned a stolen vehicle and been on foot during the later part of the chase.
"Unfortunately we did not have the resources to establish a perimeter at the time," said head of state police Colonel Timothy Alben.
Teams of officers from the FBI, city police and state police swarmed the town of 30,000 people, several of whom posted photos of snipers and troops perched on their garden sheds.
Meanwhile, Americans digested the news that the nations worst terrorist attack since September 11, 2001 had been carried out by young brothers who had been brought up in the USA.
They appeared to have hatched their plot in a flat in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the home of Harvard University.
US intelligence agencies were last night looking into whether the brothers had received training or assistance from overseas extremists, after it emerged that Tamerlan had left the US for somewhere via Russia last year.
Drastic Associates said Tamerlan had changed drastically on his return, after which he began endorsing jihadist videos on YouTube. He had also grown a full beard, which he shaved before Monday's attack.
The pair were ethnic Chechens who lived in Russia's volatile Dagestan republic more than a decade ago before moving to the US with their family.
Russia last night moved to stress that it condemns all "terrorists" regardless of their nationality.
Interpol issued a global alert known as an 'Orange Notice' last night in the wake of the violent developments.
The brothers' uncle Ruslan Tsarni earlier appealed for Dzhokhar to give himself up and insisted religion was not a motive for the attacks.
Asked what he thought provoked the bombings, he said: "Being losers – hatred to those who were able to settle themselves.
The father of the suspects described his fugitive son as an "angel" in an anguished interview in which he claimed they were set up.
Anzor Tsarnaev spoke by telephone from Dagestan after Tamerlan was killed in the early shootout.