AFTER being cooped up in their homes for more than 12 hours the population of Boston let out a heartfelt sigh of relief on Friday night when it was confirmed that the suspect in the marathon bombings had been captured.
Streets that had been deserted all day, “looking like something out of an apocalypse movie”, according to one resident, sprang back to life as flag-waving crowds celebrated the end of one of the biggest manhunts in recent US history.
In Watertown, where the 19-year-old fugitive was found hiding in a boat, residents lined up to applaud police officers and state troopers as they left the scene in a convoy of cruisers.
As the widespread anxiety that accompanied Friday’s city-wide lockdown gave way to relief, there was an outpouring of gratitude to the police and the intelligence officials who tracked down Tsarnaev.
On Boston Common crowds gathered chanting “BPD” – for Boston Police Department – and high-fived passing officers. Others sang the national anthem and waved American flags.
Hundreds marched down Commonwealth Avenue, one of the city’s best known thoroughfares, chanting “USA!” and “Boston Strong”. Some sang the Boston Red Sox anthem, Sweet Caroline, as police blocked traffic in the area to allow the impromptu celebrations to take place.
“In a way it feels like we’ve been under siege,” said one young woman. “A huge shadow has been lifted.”
Another student said: “Sometimes college students have a somewhat contentious relationship with police. There’s none of that tonight.”
Myron Miller, 67, told the Boston Globe: “They’re proud of the city being so resilient, they’re proud of the police and the FBI doing a damn good job catching a suspect as they should.”
“They deserve it,” said Jean Caron of the praise being heaped upon the police. “It’s unbelievable what they’ve had to go through in the past few days.”
Police officers, some of whom had been working 24 hours straight, acknowledged cheers by honking their horns and blasting their sirens.
In the city’s Dorchester neighbourhood, where eight-year-old Martin Richard who died in the bombings lived, residents set off fireworks to mark the arrest.
As news of the capture spread beyond Boston, baseball fans at a New York Mets versus Washington National game in Flushing Meadow rose to their feet cheering.
Back in Boston at Boylston Street, three blocks from the site of the explosions that killed three people and injured 180 last Monday, the mood was more sombre. At the spot, which is as close as pedestrians can get to the marathon finishing line - still roped off as a crime scene - several dozen people stood in silence, some in tears, at a makeshift memorial to the victims.
Shortly before midnight, a piper playing Amazing Grace broke the silence and the mourners began to sing.
Rich Havens, the marathon finish co-ordinator, said: “Certainly it’s a great relief that the two suspects have been dealt with. This is going to give us some closure for the 117th marathon and allow us to finally clean up the streets, return them to traffic and look ahead to next year.”