Massachusetts state officials released a report Friday detailing the law enforcement response to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, finding in part that the overall response was "a great success" but that efforts fell short in a number of ways, especially during the manhunt for the primary suspects, brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
The "After Action Report for the Response to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings" highlighted many positive attributes to how authorities responded to the series of events on and in the days immediately following April 13, 2013, including the level of preparedness, the initial response to the explosions, the ongoing response to the explosions, the apprehension of suspects and recovery efforts.
But the report, which was prepared by multiple agencies and municipalities, including the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Massachusetts State Police, also cited multiple shortcomings in each of those categories. In particular, the report’s authors found a decided lack of coordination and “weapons discipline” among law enforcement in the heat of the search for the Tsarnaev brothers in the Boston suburb of Watertown, where massive gunfire was exchanged between both sides, resulting in Tamerlan’s death.
The moments prior to the shootout were described in vivid detail, including when the Tsarnaev brothers carjacked a black Mercedes-Benz SUV in the moments after the death of Sean Collier -- a police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- and drove the vehicle to Watertown. Dzhokhar was ultimately able to flee in the SUV, leaving Tamerlan dead on the street. Following the gunfight, a “black pickup truck” was reported to police as being stolen. The pickup truck was later seen by a police officer, who took aim at it and shot. According to the report, “Upon further inspection, it was determined that the occupants of the vehicle were a [Boston Police Department] officer and [Massachusetts State Police] trooper in plain clothes, both of whom were unhurt.”
A similar situation followed hours later when Dzhokhar attempted to hide from authorities by seeking refuge in boat that was parked in a Watertown home’s backyard. In that instance, according to the report, “An officer fired his weapon without appropriate authority in response to perceived movement in the boat, in turn causing many officers to fire at the boat in the belief that they were being shot at by the suspect. Each of these incidents created dangerous crossfire situations.”
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Friday said he was "proud" the report recognized the good as well as the bad. “I am proud that this report highlights the tremendous efforts of so many city workers following the violence that struck our city two years ago, including the re-opening of Boylston Street in the aftermath of the bombing, and the incredible response of our hospitals and medical personnel,” said Walsh, who took office less than a year after the bombings. “I know that over the past two years city departments have worked together diligently to take the lessons learned from the bombings and drastically improve our emergency response protocols so we are even better prepared for the future, and we can set the example for other cities.”
The trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev began last month and the defense, which on day one openly admitted Dzhokhar’s guilt for his role in the bombings, rested its case Tuesday. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday, April 6.
Read the full report below.