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Boat Owner In Watertown Shaken After Finding Bombing Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

9:06 PM, Apr 20, 2013   |    comments
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Oren Dorell, USA TODAY

Watertown, MA-- The man who found the Boston bombing suspect in his boat Friday night may be a hero, but he's an angry hero if the boat got shot up in the gunfire that preceded the fugitive's capture, one of his neighbors said.

The boat owner, David Henneberry a retired New England Telephone worker, noticed that the shrink-wrap cover on the trailered boat in his backyard had been disturbed. He looked inside, saw what looked like a body lying there and called police, his stepson and a neighbor told reporters. Neighbors said they heard dozens of shots Friday night around the time Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was taken into custody.

The boat "is his pride and joy," said Chris Kelly, 63, of Manchester by the Sea, Mass., who owns an unoccupied rental property two houses away. "He'll be (ticked) as hell if it has bullet holes in it."

Police allowed Kelly to check on his property Saturday afternoon. He said he saw Henneberry's boat. It was covered not with the white-shrink wrap that protected it all winter but with a dark green tarp. Around it, people in black FBI jackets searched for evidence on their hands and knees and marked places with little orange flags, Kelly said.

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Robert Duffy, Henneberry's stepson, told the New York Daily News that Henneberry on Friday evening noticed one of the straps on the tarp had been cut.

George Pizzuto, a friend of Henneberry's who lives nearby, told ABC News that Henneberry discovered Tsarnaev when he went outside "to get some fresh air" after Gov. Deval Patrick lifted a curfew imposed on Boston-area residents, and in Watertown in particular, while police conducted an intense door-to-door manhunt.

"He went up a ladder, pulled up the zip cover and thought he saw what looked like a body lying in the boat," Pizzuto said.

Until the owner of the boat called police to alert them to the discovery of the bloody suspect, investigators did not know where Tsarnaev was and were concerned about losing his trail.

"We just didn't know,'' a federal law enforcement official said. "And we didn't know how far he could go. We couldn't find him, and there was concern as every hour passed.''

The official, who has been briefed on the matter but is not authorized to comment publicly, said authorities were considering other possible locations away from the Watertown neighborhood, when the owner of the boat called with the stunning discovery.

"He was very key to this,'' the official said of the owner's alert to police.

When police arrived, the official said they were able to make contact with the suspect in the boat, while a helicopter equipped with infra-red technology detected movement inside the boat.

The official did not know what the suspect told the officers, but there was discussion about whether the suspect was armed.

When he was taken into custody, the official said, Tsarnaev was not armed and no explosives were found in his possession.

Jay Blitzman, 63, a juvenile court judge who lives about a block away, said he was walking in the direction of Henneberry's house after police first allowed residents out of their homes when a stream of police vehicles rushed down the street.

"Then we heard rapid gunfire - it sounded like automatic gunfire," and police ordered everyone back inside, Blitzman said.

Pizzuto said there also were loud explosive sounds, but he didn't know whether they were caused by police or the suspect. Police were hesitant to enter the boat because they feared the man inside could be wired with explosives, he said.

Police interviewed Henneberry extensively and he was shaken by the whole experience, Pizzuto said.

Henneberry might get his boat out on the water again, though.

Dozens of people on Twitter had sent messages congratulating him for his role in Tsarnaev's capture. Many said they want to raise money to replace or restore his boat.

"We need to get Dave Henneberry a new boat," said Joseph Houk, @jwhouk, who describes himself in Twitter profile as "a Cheesehead Sports fan and Philosopher" from the Great North Woods of Wisconsin.

"Help get Dave Henneberry a new boat. He deserves it!" tweeted Kristina Martinelli, @GetEngergized11.

Contributing: Kevin Johnson

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