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The quiet street where 5 days of terror ended

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Neighbors use cameras to record images of the boat at 67 Franklin St. where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, was hiding.

WATERTOWN, Mass. — Franklin Street is a stretch of about three dozen Victorian homes in this old mill town on the banks of the Charles River. It's a tree-lined street where residents say they can have a yard without paying the higher prices in neighboring Cambridge, raising children in a quiet neighborhood.

But on Friday night, the street, specifically a white house with a pitched roof and a boat parked out back for the winter, became the focal point of the nation — the final scene in the hunt for the two men suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon.

At dusk, when authorities lifted a daylong order for people in much of the Boston area to stay in their homes, Franklin Street stirred ever so slightly back to life. One suspect was still on the loose, but people were anxious and had been cooped up for hours.

Tammy DePamphilis, inside with her husband and children since 11:30 the night before, figured she could head for McDonald’s to get dinner for the family. She was nervous, but it wasn’t dark yet, and the drive was only a minute or so.

Stephen, her husband, decided to take out the trash. “It was such a beautiful day,” he said.

One block over on Center Street, the Kelleher family had just enough time to pile into their van. Eva, 9, had the role of a goose in a play at spring vacation camp, and her big sister, Devon, 15, was supposed to work backstage. The curtain was in an hour.

And at 67 Franklin St., the white house with the 24-foot Seabird pleasure boat out back, David Henneberry finally had the chance to go outside and smoke the cigarette he had been waiting for.

It was windy in the Boston area on Friday night, and the tarpaulin that covers the boat was flapping. Henneberry, the president of the local yacht club, knows his boat well. Something, he knew, was not right.

He walked over to the boat. One of the straps that hold the tarp in place had been cut. It had not come loose or been worn through — it had been cut clean. There was blood on the tarp.

As his stepson, Robert Duffy, relayed the story to NBC News, Henneberry grabbed a stepladder and had a look inside. It was partly cloudy, so he couldn’t get a clear view, but he saw a pool of blood, “something hunched down toward the forward of the boat.”

Robert Duffy, stepson of the man who discovered Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in his boat Friday, tells TODAY's Lester Holt about the crucial moment of discovery.

Henneberry went inside and called the police.

“At that point,” Duffy said, “I still don’t believe he knew what was really going down.”

All day, Watertown had been the epicenter of the hunt for the two bombing suspects. In the small hours of Friday, it was where Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev had engaged six Watertown police officers and a transit officer in a firefight, authorities said.

During the hunt, 9,000 law enforcement officers, some with warlike armored vehicles, had combed Watertown. It is only a town of 32,000 people, and it was under siege.

The house at No. 67, just where Franklin Street makes a dogleg turn, was two blocks outside the police perimeter set up around the area where the search for the two men was hottest.

It is an 18-minute walk from the site of the firefight the night before if he took the most direct route, two rights and a left. Tsarnaev could have spotted the boat from the street and walked down the driveway.

Or if he had wanted to stay off the street, he could have skirted through the industrial buildings at the back of the neighborhood and climbed over a few pants-ripping fences to reach the white house.

At 6 p.m., from a command post elsewhere in Watertown, authorities said that they had not found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Indeed, they said, he might have fled Massachusetts altogether. They urged caution but allowed people to come out of their houses.

Night was starting to fall, and inside the boat, Tsarnaev, who authorities have said was wounded in the 200-round battle the night before, might have thought he had a chance to make an escape.

Immediately after Henneberry made the call to the police, they got him and his wife to a safe location — probably to a neighbor’s place, Duffy said in an interview with NBC’s TODAY.

His call upended the tense calm that had settled on Watertown. Cruisers and armored vehicles, with officers standing on the sides as workers might on a garbage truck, tore down the road from the command post toward 67 Franklin St.

Authorities in helicopters, using infrared heat-sensing technology, trained their sights on the boat in the backyard. Against the light-gray outlines of the vessel, they could make out the dark, prone figure of a man.

Not long after, a long staccato burst of gunfire, captured on video from a neighbor’s place, erupted at dusk.

Duffy, who was elsewhere, got a phone call from a friend: “Doesn’t your mom live on Franklin Street?”

He turned around to look at the television, and saw what millions of Americans saw at exactly the same time: Photos, taken by mapping programs for Google and Bing, of his family’s house.

Duffy tried to reach his mother and stepfather, but their landline was disconnected or left off the hook, and they left their cellphones inside the house.

There was an exchange of gunfire between the authorities and the man on the boat, officials said. Officers threw so-called flash-bang grenades, designed to disorient and effectively blind a suspect.

At 8:45 p.m., police announced that they had their man. Other officers gathered in Watertown whooped. An ambulance sped Tsarnaev away to a hospital in Boston. On Franklin and nearby streets, people cheered the departing cruisers.

On an ordinary Saturday, the people of Franklin Street might have been sitting on their front porches under gingerbread trim, or talking a walk to enjoy the blooming yellow forsythia and white flowering cherry.

On this Saturday, they were wide-eyed and met by a swarm of journalists and gawkers. They swapped stories of the day under lockdown and the raid on their street that had ended Boston’s week of terror.

Tammy DePamphilis never made it to McDonald’s. When police cars began screaming down her street, officers with automatic rifles and combat vests had yelled for people to get back inside.

Eva Kelleher was already playing her role as a goose.

“This could have gone in a very different direction,” her father, Timothy, said Saturday. “We had no idea that the man they were looking for was a few hundred feet from our back door all this time.”

"I had never heard shooting before except on TV or the movies," said Watertown, Mass., resident Mary Sullivan, who saw the apprehension of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. TODAY's Erica Hill interviews Watertown residents Andrew Kitzenberg and Mary Sullivan.


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