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April 20, 2013

In Boston and beyond, thanks and jubilation

They gathered in silence on Boylston Street, just three blocks away from the chaos and carnage caused by twin bombings four days earlier. Some were crying.

Boston University student Aaron Wengertsman, 19, wrapped himself in an American flag. He was on the marathon route a mile from the finish line when the bombs exploded.

"I'm glad they caught him alive," he said of one of two brothers authorities say were responsible for the explosions. "I thought people might be more excited, but it's humbling to see all these people paying their respects."

As Wengertsman and dozens of others held a solemn commemoration Friday night for the victims of the blasts, others took to the streets of Boston and beyond to celebrate the capture of the surviving suspect following a manhunt that left the city largely paralyzed.

In Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, where an 8-year-old boy killed in the bombing lived, people set off fireworks.

Boston University juniors Brendan Hathaway and Sam Howes gave high fives to strangers as they walked down the street bathed in the flashing lights from Kenmore Square's iconic rooftop Citgo sign.

"This was like our first opportunity to really be outside without feeling like there imminent danger," said Hathaway, a mechanical engineering student from nearby Newton. "It was close to home for me."

At Boston Common, Beth Lloyd-Jones said it felt like she had her city back. She was blocks away from the blast on Monday in her south end home.

"It's personal," she said, noting that she's planning her wedding for the public library building adjacent to where the bombs exploded.

"That could have been any one of us," she said of the victims. "Now I feel a little safer."

The surviving suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was taken to a hospital after engaging in a firefight with police while hiding out in a parked boat in a Watertown backyard. Earlier in the day, his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had been killed in a gunbattle and car chase during which he and his younger brother hurled explosives at police from a stolen car, authorities said. During the getaway attempt, the brothers killed an MIT policeman and severely wounded another officer, authorities said.

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