What you’re about to read is how it all ended. The denouement. It is a story of remarkable drama, bravery, and terror, and it is based on interviews with Watertown police and fire officials, State Police and Boston police, including Dan Linskey, the superintendent in chief of the Boston Police Department.
Joe Reynolds is a young cop in Watertown, and last Friday he was driving, alone in his cruiser, when he saw them.
The bombing suspects.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his brother Dzhokhar were in two cars, following each other closely.
Reynolds called it in.
Do not engage, the dispatcher told him. Not on your own.
The brothers pulled over. So did Reynolds. He didn’t know it, but he was about to interrupt the two as they tried, police believe, to transfer their crude, homemade explosives from one vehicle to another.
As Reynolds waited for backup, it felt like hours, but it was only minutes and that backup, in the form of Sergeant John MacLellan, was speeding up the street just as the Tsarnaevs turned and at least one of them opened up on Joe Reynolds. Reynolds threw his cruiser into reverse and sped backwards. He and MacLellan got out and began returning fire.
The suspects had to know they had only one chance if they were going to make their way to New York, perhaps to kill again. They had to shoot their way out. But the cavalry was on the way to ensure that would not happen. A bevy of Watertown, Boston, Transit, and State Police were rushing to help.
Tim Menton, a Watertown patrolman, was on his way home after a detail when he heard the call for backup. He sped toward the intersection of Laurel and Dexter in his personal vehicle, but once he turned onto Dexter Avenue, he was greeted with a burst of gunfire. A bullet pierced his windshield.
Watertown police Sergeant Jeff Pugliese was on his way home after his shift ended, but he heard the frantic calls for backup and sped toward the scene.
MacLellan then ingeniously let his car roll, unoccupied, toward the two men. It drew fire, and every bullet fired into the car was one less bullet that could be used on a cop.
Explosions boomed, and the street lit up with sparks.
“They’re throwing explosives!” a state cop yelled into a radio.
Thinking fast and with sure tactical instincts, Pugliese drove not into the firefight, but down one of the side streets he knows like the back of his hand. He ran through yards in the dark and outflanked the bombers. Pugliese began firing from the side, and police believe that he hit 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, bringing him down.
Pugliese and a Boston police officer converged on the wounded man and subdued him. They didn’t know where the younger brother, Dzhokhar, had disappeared to until they heard the gunning of an engine. Dzhokhar aimed the stolen Mercedes-Benz SUV at the cops who, in a scene that would not be out of place in a Hollywood film, dove to safety. Tamerlan Tsarnaev wasn’t as lucky. His body was dragged by the car for a short distance before his little brother drove off.
A suspect was down, but so was an officer. An MBTA cop named Dick Donohue lay on the street, his femoral artery ripped apart by a bullet. A Boston cop named Ricky Moriarty was soon at his side and began doing chest compressions. A pair of Harvard University officers, Ryan Stanton and Michael Rea, applied tourniquets to stop the blood gushing from Donohue’s upper thigh. Others joined in.
A pair of Watertown firefighters, Pat Menton and Jimmy Caruso, were in a fire rescue truck when they got a call for an officer down. Pat Menton froze momentarily: Timmy, he thought, don’t let it be Timmy.
His brother Tim, the off-
duty cop who drove from his detail into the middle of a firefight, was not the officer down, but one of the officers working on the officer who was down.
As Pat Menton and Jimmy Caruso raced to the scene, Dan Linskey, the Boston police chief, was standing on a corner in Watertown with a state cop named Chris Dumont when he heard the plaintive cries over his radio.
Officer down! Officer hit! We need an ambulance!
Linskey knew that voice. It was one of his officers, Ricky Moriarty. Both Linskey and Moriarty are former Marines, if there is such a thing. Linskey started running with Dumont beside him.
“Ricky, where are you?”
“Ricky! Please, please, let me know where you are.”
Moriarty had strained a ligament in his hand while doing CPR and pulled off in pain. Another Boston cop, Walter Suprey, jumped in seamlessly. Moriarty gathered his breath.
“144 Dexter!” Moriarty yelled into his shoulder mike, to his chief. “144 Dexter!”
Linskey and Dumont were there in seconds. Linskey saw that Donohue was surrounded by other officers so he ran straight toward the severely wounded Tamerlan Tsarnaev. He saw that one of his cops, Jared Gero, was holding the suspect, who was handcuffed.
“Be careful, Jared!” Linskey remembers yelling. “He might be loaded!”
Linskey and Gero ripped Tsarnaev’s clothes from his body, frisking him for an explosive device. They found none.
At that moment, the two firefighter paramedics, Pat Menton and Jimmy Caruso, arrived at Donohue’s side and took over. It didn’t look good. Donohue had gone into cardiac arrest. He had no pulse. So much blood had drained from his body. He had the pallor of a dead man, but Menton and Caruso were damned if they were going to let a cop die on their watch.
The police officers carried their comrade to the back of the fire rescue truck and put him down. Menton and Caruso leaped in and continued to work on him. The state cop, Dumont, jumped in with them.
Pat Menton cleared his airway. Dumont began CPR. Caruso used all his strength to clamp the pulsing femoral artery, from which Donohue’s life was ebbing away.
“We need a driver!” Pat Menton yelled. “We need a driver!”
Menton didn’t see it, but his brother Tim, the cop, jumped in the driver’s seat. He had never sat in the fire truck and didn’t have the first clue how to operate it. But he got it going.
Protocol called for them to go to the trauma unit at Beth Israel, at least 5 miles away.
“We’ll never make it,” Pat Menton said.
“We’ll never make it,” Jimmy Caruso agreed.
Go to Mount Auburn, they yelled to the driver, who had been joined up front by Donohue’s partner. That hospital was less than 2 miles away.
They screeched to a halt at the hospital, and Pat Menton and Jimmy Caruso went right into the ER with him.
Having just saved a police officer’s life, Pat Menton and Jimmy Caruso walked out of the hospital and right into Tim Menton.
“What are you doing here?” they asked.
“I drove the rig,” Tim Menton replied.
Then they smelled it, an awful, metallic smell. Tim Menton the cop didn’t know how to get the emergency brake off a fire truck, so they had driven with it on for 2 miles.
Back on Laurel Street, they were trying to save Tamerlan Tsarnaev, too. “Because that’s what we do,” Linskey said. “We’re better than them, and we gave him medical care even though he killed women and children in our city. Even though he tried to kill us.”
Linksey had been working 40 hours when Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis walked over and put a hand on his shoulder. Linskey didn’t want to go, but he could barely stand, and orders are orders.
“You’re not driving your car, are you?” asked his pal, Eddie Kelly, the Boston firefighter from Ladder Tower 17.
“No,” Linksey replied, tossing him the keys, “you are.”
Kelly drove him home and Linskey’s wife led him to the couch. Linskey opened a beer and was wondering what they would have to do to catch the other one when he got a call: they had cornered Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a boat parked in a backyard in Watertown.
There, the chaos and drama continued. It’s unclear who opened fire and why, but the cops let a fusillade go at the boat. Billy Evans, a Boston superintendent and the most senior officer on the scene, started screaming, “Hold your fire! Hold your fire!”
When they finally pulled the bloody, exhausted kid from the boat, Billy Evans turned to a pair of cops from the MBTA Police SWAT Team. “He hurt your guy,” Billy Evans said. “Cuff him.”
Kenny Tran and Jeff Campbell stepped forward, and they put the cuffs on, for their buddy Dick Donohue and for all of us.