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Report: Lack of gun discipline when marathon bombers found

April 3, 2015

BOSTON (AP) — Some police officers involved in tracking down the Boston Marathon bombers days after the attacks showed a lack of “weapons discipline” during a firefight with the brothers and in the eventual capture of one of them, resulting in dangerous crossfire, according to a report released Friday.

A transit police officer, Richard Donohue, was critically wounded in the initial confrontation with Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev on April 19, 2013. The report does not explicitly say whether Donohue was shot by fellow police officers.

The report also reveals that shortly after the shootout, which led to Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s death, an officer near the scene fired on an unmarked state police vehicle after it was mistakenly reported as stolen. A state trooper and a Boston police officer in the vehicle were not injured.

Later in the day, when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was discovered hiding in a boat, a police officer “fired his weapon without appropriate authority,” causing many other officers to believe the bomber was firing at them and leading them to open fire on the boat, according to the 130-page report from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

The incidents created “dangerous crossfire situations,” the report said.

Three people were killed and more than 260 people were injured when twin pressure-cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon on April 15, 2013.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is on trial on federal charges, some of which could carry the death penalty, related to the bombing and its aftermath. His lawyer admitted in opening statements that he had participated in the bombings but argued that his late brother was the mastermind. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.

The long-awaited report praises many other aspects of the emergency response to the bombings at the finish line of the marathon, particularly the response of medical personnel at the scene and Boston hospitals who treated gravely injured victims. Three people died at the scene, but every victim who was transported to the hospital survived.

“Overall, the response to the Boston Marathon bombings must be considered a great success,” the report stated.

The initial shootout with the suspects followed the fatal shooting of Sean Collier, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, and a carjacking in Cambridge.

“Although initial responding officers practiced appropriate weapons discipline while they were engaged in the firefight with the suspects, additional officers arriving on scene near the conclusion of the firefight fired weapons toward the vicinity of the suspects, without necessarily having identified and lined up their target,” or appropriately aiming their guns, the report said.

“Officers lining both sides of the street also fired upon the second suspect as he fled the scene in a vehicle,” the report said. A timeline of events listed in the report noted that the transit officer was shot as the surviving suspect fled.

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