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First there was a burst of gunfire. Then a series of blasts. Then, less than an hour later, cheers.
After a day-long massive manhunt for one Boston Marathon bombing suspect that terrorized several cities and riveted a nation, the shouting and applause on the streets of Watertown, Massachusetts, was a welcome sign of victory.
Police shouted, “Yay!” Neighbors clapped.
Residents and reporters who had been anxiously waiting on a nearby corner saw a concrete sign of progress.
Police began leaving the backyard of a Watertown home where suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev had been holed up in a boat.
A law enforcement vehicle with tinted windows drove by the crowd.
When someone asked whether they have the suspect in custody, a police officer said, “Yes” – and the crowd of residents erupted in cheers again.
Minutes later, a series of Twitter posts from the Boston Police Department trumpeted the news.
“CAPTURED!!!” one post said. “The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.”
In Watertown, it wasn’t long before SWAT teams shouted over a loudspeaker: “Thank you, thank you! It was a pleasure! USA! USA!”
The crowd joined in.
Watertown resident Mary Sullivan was among those cheering.
She was walking her young black Labrador, Lucy, when gunshots rang out in her neighborhood on Friday.
She waited for word on the fate of the suspect at the corner of Franklin and Mount Auburn with dozens of other residents.
“I’m glad it’s over,” she said. “The city and the people have gone through so much pain over these irrational decisions of these young men.”
Jubilant crowds celebrated beyond Watertown’s borders.
Residents, once holed up in houses and apartment buildings across the Boston area, poured out onto downtown streets. Music blared as revelers brandished American flags across the city.
Near Boston’s Northeastern University, students hugged each other, waved flags and chanted, “Let’s go Boston!” and “USA, USA!”
Myles Marcus, a student at Berklee College of Music, said he was happy to join the celebration.
“We’ve all been watching the TV, the computer, the live updates since the beginning of this whole thing,” he said. “I just feel relieved. I feel like I can go back to school now and know that I’m safe.”
Some were more hesitant as celebrations unfolded across the city.
“There’s always this thing in the back of my head that wonders if all this is a little premature,” said Sara Pradziak, 21, who looked on as mostly college-age revelers filled Hemingway Street in downtown Boston.
Boston police quickly worked to disperse the expanding group.
“Folks, do us a favor,” one officer said. “If you want to thank us, just go home.”
And yet, several officers smiled as the crowd greeted their slow-moving motorcycle line with enthusiastic cheers and applause.
At least two ambulances screeched past the Friday night celebrations, sirens blaring – a sober reminder of the deadly week that many in Boston said they hoped had finally come to an end.
Across the country, on a packed Delta 757 flying from Atlanta to Chicago, passengers clapped after a flight attendant made an announcement over the intercom: “Police have the suspect in custody. He’s alive.”
Sarah-Ann Soffer, 30, gave the flight attendant the news after spotting it on Twitter. Reading the news and sharing it with her fellow passengers was an experience the public relations manager says she’ll never forget.
“Everyone, you could tell, was just like holding in their breath at that moment. You could tell there was that kind of sigh of relief. You could breathe again,” she said. “It was one of these moments, where you know where you are when they happen. … I wasn’t sitting on my couch. I was 30,000 feet above the ground, witnessing history.”
CNN’s Wayne Drash reported from Watertown. CNN’s David Ariosto reported from Boston. CNN’s Catherine E. Shoichet reported from Atlanta. CNN’s Poppy Harlow and Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.