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BOSTON — The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, whose flight from the police after a furious gunfight early Friday sparked an intense manhunt that virtually shut down the entire Boston metropolitan area, was captured Friday night after police found him hiding in a boat in the backyard of a house in Watertown, Mass., authorities said.

The suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was hiding in a boat just outside the area where police had been conducting door-to-door searches all day, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said at a news conference.

“A man had gone out of his house after being inside the house all day, abiding by our request to stay inside,’’ Davis said, referring to the request officials made to residents to stay behind locked doors. “He walked outside and saw blood on a boat in the backyard. He then opened the tarp on the top of the boat and he looked in and saw a man covered with blood. He retreated and called us.”

“Over the course of the next hour or so we exchanged gunfire with the suspect … and ultimately the hostage-rescue team of the FBI made an entry into the boat and removed the suspect, who was still alive,’’ he said. Davis said Tsarnaev was in “serious condition,’’ and had apparently been wounded in the shootout that left his brother dead early Friday.

A federal law-enforcement official said Tsarnaev would not be read his Miranda rights because the authorities would be invoking the public-safety exception to question him extensively about other potential explosive devices or accomplices and to try to gain intelligence.

A police officer at the scene said Tsarnaev was covered in blood when he was captured. An ambulance was already there. The Boston Police Department said on Twitter: “Suspect in custody.” Mayor Thomas Menino posted, “We got him.”

As about 30 law-enforcement officers walked away from the scene of what had been a tense standoff only minutes earlier, neighbors who had gathered nearby applauded and shouted, “Thank you! Thank you!”

President Obama praised the law-enforcement officials who brought the suspect into custody late Friday, saying: “We’ve closed an important chapter in this tragedy.” He said he had directed federal law-enforcement officials to continue to investigate what had happened, and he urged people not to rush to judgment about the motivations behind the attacks.

The capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev came about 26 hours after the FBI circulated images of him and his brother and called them suspects in Monday’s bombings at the marathon, that killed three people and wounded more than 170.

The case unfolded quickly — and lethally — after that. Law-enforcement officials said that within hours of the release of the images, the two men shot and killed a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), carjacked a sport-utility vehicle and led police on a chase, tossing several pipe bombs from their vehicle.

Early Friday, the men got into a gunbattle with the police in Watertown, about six miles from Boston, in which more than 200 rounds were fired, and a transit-police officer was critically wounded. When the shootout ended, one of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, a former boxer, had been shot and fatally wounded. He was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess hospital in Boston, where he was pronounced dead. He was wearing explosives when he was killed, several law-enforcement officials said. But his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, escaped, running over his brother as he sped away in the SUV, officials said.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s escape and fears he could be armed with more explosives set off one of the most intense manhunts in recent memory. SWAT teams and Humvees rolled through quiet residential streets. Military helicopters hovered overhead. Bomb squads were called to several locations. And Boston — New England’s largest city — was essentially shut down, as were neighboring Cambridge and Watertown.

Transit service was suspended all day. Classes at Harvard University, MIT, Boston University and other area colleges were canceled. Amtrak canceled service into Boston. The Red Sox game at Fenway Park was postponed, as was a concert at Symphony Hall. Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts urged residents to stay behind locked doors all day, not lifting the request until about 6 p.m., when transit service in the shaken, seemingly deserted region was restored.

As the hundreds of police officers fanned out across New England looking for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, investigators tried to piece together a fuller picture of the two brothers, to determine more about the bombing at the Boston Marathon.

The older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was interviewed by the FBI in 2011 when a foreign government asked the bureau to determine whether he had extremist ties, according to a senior law-enforcement official. The government knew he was planning to travel there and was afraid he might be a risk, the official said.

The official would not say which government made the request, but his father said he had traveled to Russia in 2012. The FBI conducted a review and concluded he was not a threat. Now officials are scrutinizing that trip.

Even after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s capture, law-enforcement and counterterrorism officials were struggling to determine whether the two brothers had any accomplices and whether they had any connections to foreign or domestic terrorist organizations. One official said the FBI and police were seeking “a number of people with whom we would like to speak in furtherance of the investigation.”