After a 24-hour-long manhunt that paralyzed the city of Boston, authorities have captured Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the second suspect in last Monday's bombing at the Boston Marathon.
The manhunt was initiated when Tsarnaev and his older brother, 26-year-old Tamerlane Tsarnaev, gunned down an MIT police officer and hijacked a car, fleeing to Watertown, a Boston suburb. There, the brothers engaged in a running gun battle with police officers, lobbing homemade pipe bombs and at least one pressure-cooker bomb like the ones they allegedly used at the marathon.
The older brother was killed in the gunfight, but the younger Tsarnaev managed to escape in the confusion, after the pair wounded a Boston transit police officer in the firefight.
Terrified residents were ordered to stay indoors, public transportation stopped running, and the entire city shut down for all of Friday as one of the largest manhunts in US history searched for the fugitive Tsarnaev.
The hunt appeared to have reached a dead end, but a short time after Massachusetts authorities lifted the stay-inside order for Boston residents, a Watertown man noticed blood in his backyard leading to his boat. Police used thermal imaging to confirm that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was in the boat, wounded, and closed in, negotiating for several hours before capturing Tsarnaev and taking him to a nearby hospital for medical care.
In the days leading up to the manhunt, as authorities sifted through the wreckage of the marathon in search of suspects, a parallel search happened online, with members of Reddit analyzing security footage of the bombers in an attempt to discern their identity. That, in turn, led to false accusations, as a pair of names allegedly pulled from police scanner traffic proliferated online to the point that outlets like Gawker were reporting that it appeared those names belonged to suspects.
That online/traditional news parallel continued on Friday evening as police closed in on the younger Tsarnaev brother. Even as reporters for major news networks such as CNN were held well back from the scene by police officers, twitter was flooded with information gleaned from police scanners, often outpacing network news coverage. Rumors that Tsarnaev was in a boat (CNN referred to is as a “structure” long after most networks had confirmed it was a boat) and that he was still alive spread long before major news outlets could confirm that; the Boston Globe in particular was providing minute-by-minute updates to Twitter from the scene that were much more pertinent than what many networks were reporting.
It's illustrative of just how much news coverage is evolving, as traditional news outlets like CNN and The New York Post (which also published the names of the falsely accused suspects) failing, or falling on their faces, in attempts to keep up with the pace of online reporting. Traditional organizations are still trying to adapt to social media and changing habits of news consumption, and it hasn't been a smooth transition so far.