Why Did One Boston-Area Cop Let Tsarnaev Escape? - WhoWhatWhy

Why Did One Boston-Area Cop Let Tsarnaev Escape?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

1Jurors in the trial of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev heard dramatic testimony from officers involved in the Watertown shootout Monday. However, they did not hear from the officer who came within a few feet of a fleeing Tsarnaev, then the most wanted man in the country.

Watertown police officer John St. Onge met Tsarnaev “head on” at the corner of Spruce and Lincoln Streets, at a point where the road was too narrow for both cars to pass. That forced the injured Tsarnaev to exit the Mercedes SUV he’d been driving and take off on foot, a document obtained by WhoWhatWhy shows.

2St. Onge had responded from home after hearing the frantic radio transmissions of colleagues caught up in the shootout.

It’s unclear why St. Onge did not chase Tsarnaev, the manhunt for whom precipitated the unprecedented lockdown of Boston. Major Francis Hughes, Commander of the Division for Investigative Services at the Massachusetts State Police, told the court Monday that officers independently discovered Tsarnaev’s abandoned vehicle:

Hughes appeared to suggest it was only when officers “found” the SUV that they realized Tsarnaev, was gone:

Was Hughes simply not aware of St. Onge’s close encounter? If he was unaware, from where did he get his information? And why wasn’t St. Onge called to explain the exact circumstances himself?

It’s details like this which are expected to be revealed in a highly critical “after action” report, the release of which has been delayed until after Tsarnaev’s trial. The still-confidential report is expected to cover the chaotic Watertown response, including incidents of friendly fire and communication difficulties.

To be sure, it could just be confusion among the police officers, involved in a multi-agency effort and what surely was one of the biggest incidents of most of the officers’  careers.

But given Hughes’ testimony to the court on Monday, it seems problems with communication are still all too apparent—and may have resulted in the Commander for Investigative Services providing woefully inaccurate testimony to a court of law.

Where else do you see journalism of this quality and value?

Please help us do more. Make a tax-deductible contribution now.

Our Comment Policy

Keep it civilized, keep it relevant, keep it clear, keep it short. Please do not post links or promotional material. We reserve the right to edit and to delete comments where necessary.


6 responses to “Why Did One Boston-Area Cop Let Tsarnaev Escape?”

  1. Avatar Jennifer O'Harah says:

    Wasn’t St. Onge one of the cops connected to that massive drug ring led by Maderati and the
    Watertown and Waltham police, politicians, and councilmen? Wasn’t St. Onge the one that
    beat the living daylights out of Bobby. Seems like both St. Onge and Hughes missed the boat. Literally. haha.

  2. Avatar jane24 says:

    These little snippets of information keep creeping out! (No wonder the ptb seem in a hurry to get this trial over with?) Telling I think, that the release of the report on le’s actions during the aftermath of the bombing has been delayed until after Tsarnaev’s trial. (Btw, Hughes appeared to be one very uneasy witness under cross by Watkins earlier this week and it’s not as if this guy is unaccustomed to being in the public eye.)

  3. Avatar TJTruth2 says:

    I wonder if “the naked guy” will ever be acknowledged or addressed by the prosecution, the defense or the media? He was of course the guy who looked exactly like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who was ordered to strip nude in Watertown before being detained by authorities. Who was he, why was he detained, what was he doing there? Simple questions to answer, but we’ll probably never know.

  4. Avatar sfulmer says:

    Can an unsuccessful, unreported chase by St. Onge be ruled out?