SWAT team members
Photo: Getty Images/Mario Tama
WATERTOWN, Mass. -- Watertown Police Chief Ed Deveau marveled Sunday that he's not at his desk planning a police officer's funeral.
The Boston Marathon bombing suspects roared into Deveau's town Thursday night with an arsenal of guns, ammunition and bombs, encountering a lone officer on the night shift in a normally quiet Boston suburb.
"I think they were hell-bent on killing as many police officers as they could," Deveau said in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY on Sunday. "I'm so proud of the men and women of this department. They really displayed heroics."
The mayhem began a few hours earlier when the two suspects, Tamarlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his younger brother Dzhokhar, 19, allegedly gunned down an MIT police officer as he sat in his car, then carjacked the driver of a Mercedes SUV. The brothers then fled, driving a from Cambridge to Watertown in two cars, a Honda and the carjacked Mercedes. There, Watertown Police Officer Joe Reynolds spotted them.
"He sees the two cars riding in tandem," Deveau said. "He knows these are the bad guys."
Reynolds radioed for backup, but immediately the brothers leapt from their cars and began shooting at him, Deveau said. Reynolds gunned his car in reverse to get out of the line of fire as four other on-duty officers and two off-duty officers arrived.
The brothers continued firing at the officers, getting off 200 to 300 shots, Deveau said.
"Then they throw something at us and there is a huge explosion," he said.
Deveau suspects that it was a pressure cooker bomb similar to the two set off Monday at the Boston Marathon finish line. Crime scene investigators found the lid of a pressure cooker embedded in a civilian car the next day, Deveau said.
Even under fire from police, the brothers "held their ground," Deveau said. "They did the Boston Marathon bombing and they didn't leave town. Their pictures were out there and they didn't leave town. They wanted to kill as many people as possible."
Ultimately, the brothers threw five bombs, Deveau said. Two didn't detonate. Investigators found another six bombs in the trunk of the car, he said.
After a 10-minute firefight, Deveau said, Tamarlan Tsarnaev, the older brother, emerged from cover and moved toward an officer. But he was out of ammunition and wounded, with a gunshot in his chest. Several officers tackled him, Deveau said.
"Then the other brother came roaring down the street in the Mercedes and runs over his brother," Deveau said.
Meanwhile, Cambridge Police who were tracking the Mercedes via GPS had alerted police from neighboring cities. Police from Boston, Cambridge and elsewhere descended on the city with blaring sirens and flashing lights.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old, drove about 300 yards and then abandoned the car, Deveau said.
"He could see the lights and hear the sirens, so he dumped the car and took off on foot," he said.
As the other police on the scene tried to set up a perimeter to keep him pinned down, police at the center of the firefight were tending to wounded Massachusetts Bay Area Transit Police Officer Richard Donahoe, who had been shot in the groin. The bullet struck an artery and Donahoe was bleeding profusely, Deveau said.
"Our focus was on rendering aid. Someone, I don't know who, was on the radio setting up a perimeter and blocking off the main streets," he said.
Ultimately, police focused on a 20-block perimeter at the center of Watertown to conduct a house-to-house, block-by-block search for Tsarnaev, Deveau said. Police knew he'd been wounded. They found blood in the Mercedes.
"We didn't think he got by the perimeter," Deveau said. Police hadn't received any reports of stolen or carjacked vehicles.
As SWAT teams conducted the grid search the next day, they found blood and urine behind a house, but the police dogs didn't hit on anything after that.
"We knew he was injured. We just didn't know how bad," he said. "Our calculations weren't that far off."
A man who stepped out of his house to smoke a cigarette Friday night when state officials allowed people to go outside found Tsarnaev lying in his boat. The house is three blocks outside the perimeter.
"There's a decent chance that he was in the boat the whole time," Deveau said.
An FBI negotiator coaxed Tsarnaev out of the boat.
"He was lethargic. He didn't say anything," Deveau said.
On Sunday, people were stopping by the police department to drop off letters of thanks, homemade cookies and Red Sox tickets to express their gratitude. Deveau surveyed it all in amazement and gave his own thanks that all his officers survived.
"It's just slowly sinking in exactly what happened," he said. "I want them to know how proud I am of them. They stood tall under a very difficult situation."
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