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Reporter was in Watertown, Mass., when ambulance with terror suspect passes by
There had been reports that Tsarnaev had been found wounded in a boat several blocks away, on Franklin Street, but no one seemed quite sure what that meant. Was he alive? In custody? Resisting arrest?
Those gathered were reluctant to believe this was actually the end of the week of violence that began with the Boston Marathon bombings Monday and rose again in the killing of MIT Officer Sean Collier and a shootout in Watertown that left Dzhokhar's brother dead. Residents on rooftops told the crowd what they could see from their vantage points, which was very little.
"I just hope that they get him alive." said one resident. "Just so we can know why."
"I'm not scared anymore," said Amber Gregorson. "I got the info in the middle of the night when it was quiet and it was just happening, and I was totally freaked out. But now that's it's been all day, it's like: 'Just get him.' I'm exhausted with it."
Whether that ambulance was a promise or an omen, no one seemed sure, but they knew something was happening. The crowd thickened. The TV and radio correspondents spoke in a dozen different languages.
A Cambridge bomb squad rolled up. A bus full of police followed.
People checked their smartphones for updates.
Then, about 9 p.m., after reports that Tsarnaev had been taken into custody, that ambulance rolled back east through the police line. Dzhokhar was inside.
The crowd broke into applause. There were tears, chants of "USA." Couples kissed and men shook the hands of passing police officers or slapped squad cars with affection. Some cursed at the ambulance. Some broke from relief into calls for vengeance.
"String him up from the power lines," one bystander said.
Justine Kincaid appeared dismayed.
"I feel like this whole thing is useless if he isn't alive," said Kincaid. "I'm hoping he's alive. He needs to say his piece. To kill his brother and to kill him, too, ... it's not right. It's not constitutional to just go ahead and kill him. ... Clap if he's alive! If he's dead. it's for nothing."
Of all the emotions that came flooding out as the ambulance rolled by; however, the most powerful was relief.
"It's big relief," said Rafy Mardirossin. "At least he's alive."
"I went there yesterday, where they had the memorial set up for the marathon victims, and it was sad. You walk down the street and it's like a ghost town. ... There's a cigar place right there three doors down we go to. It's our neighborhood, you know? Now, hopefully we can get back, back to normal."