After Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured alive Friday night, it was revealed that thermal imaging had been utilized in the hunt to find him. The 19-year-old was discovered hiding in a boat after the death of his older brother in a violent shootout with police, and a manhunt nearly shut down the city.
NBC News reported:
Authorities said a helicopter equipped with a thermal imager spotted the heat signature of a person inside a tarp-covered boat, sitting in a backyard in Watertown, Mass. Police used the sensor after an area resident reported seeing a trail of blood leading to the boat — and catching a glimpse of a blood-covered body inside. The thermal readings confirmed that there was indeed someone under the tarp, and that the person was still alive.
“Our helicopter had actually detected the subject in the boat,” Col. Timothy Alben of the Massachusetts State Police told reporters. “We have what’s called a FLIR — a forward-looking infrared device — on that helicopter. It picked up the heat signature of the individual, even though he was underneath what appeared to be the ‘shrink wrap’ or cover on the boat itself. There was movement from that point on. The helicopter was able to direct the tactical teams over to that area.”
On Saturday, the Massachusetts Police Department released a number of the images on Twitter.
“Photos taken from State Police Air Wing on Watertown manhunt,” the tweets read.
Police also released two aerial images of the boat’s tarp being lifted by a mechanical arm, in case it was rigged with explosives or the suspect was wearing a suicide vest:
David Henneberry, an avid boater and member of the Watertown Yacht Club, raised the alarm after noticing the boat’s tarp wasn’t on properly during a cigarette break, the New York Daily News reported.
Looking closer to investigate, he saw what looked like a pool of blood and a body. He called police and was evacuated within minutes.
Henneberry’s stepson Robert Duffy told the Daily News: “I just heard they wound up shooting a couple of rounds through his boat…He’s not going to like that, he’s real anal about it.”
Tsarnaev is currently in the hospital under heavy guard, in what is described as serious but stable condition.
CBS News has more on how thermal imaging aided in the investigation: