At least one thing in the Rolling Stone article came as news to me: Dzhokhar’s former wrestling coach, Peter Payak, had appealed to the kid in a CNN interview to turn himself in. “The following morning, Payack received a text from one of the agents with the FBI’s Crisis Negotiating Unit. He’d heard Payack’s televised appeal, told him he’d invoked the coach’s name while speaking with Jahar.” The timing is a bit unclear in the article, but the implication is that the FBI talked to Dzhokhar while he was still at large, many hours before he was discovered. Did he have a cellphone in the boat with him?
One thing he didn’t have in the boat with him was a gun. So why did the officers, who had surrounded a suspect everyone says they wanted to capture alive, fire dozens of shots into the boat?
For that matter, why hadn’t they discovered Dzhokhar in the boat long before, since it was an obvious hiding place and, contrary to reports at the time, was within the perimeter of the area being intensely searched? Talk about missing the boat.
There are lots more questions I have about what happened that week, ones that nobody in official circles seems to be making any effort to answer. Take the MBTA cop who has been making the rounds on national TV denouncing the Rolling Stone cover. He nearly died from a gunshot wound after the first Watertown shootout. Witnesses told reporters it was a friendly fire wound, but I can’t find official confirmation one way or another.
For my column Sunday, I’m exploring some of these questions, and asking why there appears to be no inter-agency effort to learn from the experience.