Air wing crew talks about their first look at suspect
PLYMOUTH, Mass. (WHDH) -- The pictures that showed police they had found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were taken from a state police helicopter. The state police air wing crew told their account of the Watertown takedown on Friday.
“He was basically in the middle of the boat and he was kind of looking up…it was a perfect silhouette of a human being,” said Trooper Ed Mathurin, who operated the FLIR lens.
Tsarnaev was taken into custody last Friday. He was hiding in a boat in the yard of a Watertown home. Tsarnaev is charged with using weapons of mass destruction at the Boston Marathon. The bombings at the finish line of the marathon killed three people and injured more than 260.
The state-of-the-art helicopter captured the images of Tsarnaev inside the boat from 888 feet above the scene. A crew from Westover was the relief for the air wing crew that had been going non-stop since the night before.
The Westover crew was in the air for about 50 minutes checking false alarms when the Watertown 911 call came in. Over the scene of the boat they turned on the FLIR lens.
“We were able to look right through the plastic as if it wasn’t even there,” said Mathurin.
“It was intense. I mean, it was intense. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at that FLIR,” said Fairchild.
Fairchild’s heart was racing, but his voice was calm as he told ground crews every movement of the suspect.
“Where his head is, where his feet are, is he sitting up, does he have anything in his hands,” said Fairchild.
The eye from the sky was crucial to make sure everyone on the ground was safe.
“What we got to do now, overall, to make sure nobody gets into a situation now where they’re either hurt or injured or killed because there was no time where you could relax, no time to look away,” said Trooper Mark Spencer, the pilot.
State police said it was optimal conditions to use the FLIR lens.