Boston bombing

Boston recovers as brothers' plot questioned

2013-04-20T14:13:00Z 2013-04-21T08:07:06Z Boston recovers as brothers' plot questionedThe Associated Press The Associated Press
April 20, 2013 2:13 pm  • 

BOSTON | Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lay hospitalized under heavy guard Saturday as people across the Boston area breathed easier and investigators tried to piece together the who and why of the deadly plot.

Tsarnaev, 19, was reported in serious condition and unable to be interrogated the morning after he was pulled, wounded and bloody, from a boat parked in a Watertown backyard.

The capture came at the end of a tense day that began with his older brother, Tamerlan, dying in a desperate getaway attempt.

President Barack Obama said there are many unanswered questions about the Boston bombings, including whether the Tsarnaev brothers — ethnic Chechens from southern Russia who had been in the U.S. for about a decade and lived in the Boston area — had help from others. The president urged people not to rush to judgment about their motivations.

U.S. officials said a special interrogation team for high-value suspects would question Tsarnaev without reading him his Miranda rights, invoking a rare public-safety exception that exists to protect police and the public from immediate danger.

The American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern about that possibility. Executive Director Anthony Romero said the exception applies only when there is a continued threat to public safety and is "not an open-ended exception" to the Miranda rule, which guarantees the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.

Federal public defenders have agreed to represent the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Miriam Conrad, the federal defender for Massachusetts, says her office expects to represent Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after he is charged.

Conrad says she believes Dzhokhar should have a lawyer appointed as soon as possible because there are "serious issues regarding possible interrogation."

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's capture touched off raucous celebrations in and around Boston, with chants of "USA! USA!" Residents flooded the streets in relief and jubilation four days after the twin explosions ripped through the marathon crowd at the finish line, killing three people and wounding more than 180.

The all-day manhunt Friday brought the Boston area to a near standstill and put people on edge across the metropolitan area.

The break came around nightfall when a homeowner in Watertown saw blood on his boat, pulled back the tarp and saw a bloody Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding inside, police said. After an exchange of gunfire, he was seized and taken away in an ambulance.

"They finally caught the jerk," said nurse Cindy Boyle of Watertown. "It was scary. It was tense."

During the long night of violence leading up to the capture, the Tsarnaev brothers killed an MIT police officer, severely wounded another lawman and took part in a furious gun battle and car chase in which they hurled explosives at police from a large homemade arsenal, authorities said.

A doctor involved in treating the Boston Marathon bombing suspect who died in a gunbattle with police says he had injuries head to toe and all limbs intact when he arrived at the hospital.

Dr. David Schoenfeld said 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev was unconscious and had so many penetrating wounds when he arrived at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center early Friday that it isn't clear which ones killed him, and a medical examiner will have to determine the cause of death.

Police said three other people were taken into custody for questioning at an off-campus housing complex at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth where the younger man may have lived.

Chechnya, where the Tsarnaev family has roots, has been the scene of two wars between Russian forces and separatists since 1994. That spawned an Islamic insurgency that has carried out deadly bombings in Russia and the region, although not in the West.

More recently, Chechen terrorists killed numerous hostages in a Russian movie theater attack in 2002 and an elementary school in North Ossetia in 2004. According to the National Security Network, a Chechen man in Denmark was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2011 after trying to send a letter-bomb to a Danish newspaper in retaliation for publishing cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad.

The FBI said a foreign government told the bureau in early 2011 about information that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a follower of radical Islam.

According to the FBI, the foreign government said that based on its information, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a strong believer and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the U.S. for travel to the country's region to join unspecified underground groups.

The FBI said it interviewed Tsarnaev and relatives, and did not find any domestic or foreign terrorism activity.

Albrecht Ammon, a downstairs-apartment neighbor of Tamerlan Tsarnaev in Cambridge, said in an interview that the older brother had strong political views about the United States. Ammon quoted Tsarnaev as saying that the U.S. uses the Bible as "an excuse for invading other countries."

Tamerlan Tsarnaev had studied accounting as a part-time student at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston for three semesters from 2006 to 2008, the school said. He was married with a young daughter.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Students said he was on campus this week after the Boston Marathon bombing.

A sister of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was holed up in her northern New Jersey home on Saturday, as she worked through her grief and considered addressing the allegations against her brothers.

Police continued to stand guard at the West New York apartment building where Ailina Tsarnaeva lives with her husband and baby, and authorities say officers will remain at the site indefinitely for her protection.

West New York Police Director Michael Indri spoke briefly with Tsarnaeva inside her apartment Saturday. Upon leaving the three-story building, he told reporters she was grieving and appeared to have been crying.

"She's grieving, grieving, grieving for her family and for this whole horrific ordeal, for the people as well," Indri said.

Indri also said Tsarnaeva is considering making a statement in the coming days, but it's unclear when that may happen.

Tsarnaeva told federal agents on Friday she had not been in contact with her brothers for years. They removed a computer, electronics and other items from the apartment.

On Friday, she spoke through a barely open door to News12 New Jersey and The Star-Ledger, telling them she was sorry for the families that lost loved ones "the same way I lost my loved one."

"He was a great person," the woman said of her dead brother. "I thought I knew him. I never would have expected that from him. He is a kind and loving man. The cops took his life away just the same way he took others' lives away, if that's even true. At the end of the day, no one knows the truth."

Late Friday, less than an hour after authorities lifted the lockdown, they tracked down the younger man holed up in the boat, weakened by a gunshot wound after fleeing on foot from the overnight shootout with police that left 200 spent rounds behind.

The resident who spotted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in his boat in his Watertown yard called police, who tried to persuade the suspect to get out of the boat, said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.

"He was not communicative," Davis said.

Instead, he said, there was an exchange of gunfire — the final volley of one of the biggest manhunts in American history.

The violent endgame unfolded just a day after the FBI released surveillance-camera images of two young men suspected of planting the pressure-cooker explosives at the marathon's finish line, an attack that put the nation on edge for the week.

Watertown residents who had been told Friday morning to stay inside behind locked doors poured out of their homes and lined the streets to cheer police vehicles as they rolled away from the scene.

Celebratory bells rang from a church tower. Teenagers waved American flags. Drivers honked. Every time an emergency vehicle went by, people cheered loudly.

"Tonight, our family applauds the entire law enforcement community for a job well done, and trust that our justice system will now do its job," said the family of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who died in the bombing.

Queries cascaded in after authorities released the surveillance-camera photos — the FBI website was overwhelmed with 300,000 hits per minute — but what role those played in the overnight clash was unclear. State police spokesman Dave Procopio said police realized they were dealing with the bombing suspects based on what the two men told a carjacking victim during their night of crime.

The search by thousands of law enforcement officers all but shut down the Boston area for much of the day. Officials halted all mass transit, including Amtrak trains to New York, advised businesses not to open and warned close to 1 million people in the city and some of its suburbs to unlock their doors only for uniformed police.

Around midday, the suspects' uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md., pleaded on television: "Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness."

Tsarni says he grew concerned about Tamerlan Tsarnaev when he told him in a 2009 phone conversation that he had chosen "God's business" over work or school. Tsarni said he then contacted a family friend who told him Tsarnaev had been influenced by a recent convert to Islam.

Tsarni says their relationship ended after that call. Tsarni says he was relieved his younger nephew was captured alive so he could seek forgiveness from the bombing victims.

Until the younger man's capture, it was looking like a grim day for police. As night fell, they announced that they were scaling back the hunt and lifting the stay-indoors order across the region because they had come up empty-handed.

But then the break came and within a couple of hours, the search was over. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured about a mile from the site of the shootout that killed his brother.

A neighbor described how heavily armed police stormed by her window not long after the lockdown was lifted — the rapid gunfire left her huddled on the bathroom floor on top of her young son.

"I was just waiting for bullets to just start flying everywhere," Deanna Finn said.

When at last the gunfire died away and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken from the neighborhood in an ambulance, an officer gave Finn a cheery thumbs-up.

"To see the look on his face, he was very, very happy, so that made me very, very happy," she said.

A doctor involved in treating the Boston Marathon bombing suspect who died in a gunbattle with police says he had injuries head to toe and all limbs intact when he arrived at the hospital.

Dr. David Schoenfeld says 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev was unconscious and had so many penetrating wounds that it isn't clear which ones killed him. The doctor says a medical examiner will have to determine the cause of death.

Schoenfeld says the suspect was in cardiac arrest and lost a pulse as soon as he arrived at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center following a shootout with police in the Boston suburb of Watertown early Friday. Doctors tried numerous treatments for about 15 minutes before pronouncing him dead.

The doctor said "we did everything we could" to try to save his life.


Boston suspects' Chechen family traveled long road

The two brothers accused of blowing up homemade bombs at the Boston Marathon came from a Chechen family that for decades had been tossed from one country to another by war and persecution.

Their father and former neighbors from Kyrgyzstan — home to many Chechens who were deported from their native villages by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin — tell of a family often on the move in search of safety and a better life.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who was killed in a shootout, and his 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was captured alive, had moved to the United States about a decade ago with their parents and two sisters. By all accounts, the younger brother had many friends, but his older brother felt alienated from American society and in recent years had turned increasingly to Islam.

Although neither spent much time in Chechnya, a province in southern Russia that has been torn apart by war and an Islamic insurgency, both strongly identified themselves as Chechens. They took up boxing and wrestling, two of the most popular sports in Chechnya, where people are proud of their warrior traditions.

The brothers' story begins in Tokmok, a town about 60 kilometers (35 miles) from the capital of Kyrgyzstan, a country in Central Asia that was once part of the Soviet Union. Stalin rounded up the Chechens and shipped them east during World War II, seeing them as potentially disloyal. Their father, Anzor Tsarnaev, was born in Kyrgyzstan.

"This was a very good family," Badrudi Tsokoev, a fellow Chechen who lived next door to the Tsarnaevs, said Saturday. "They all strove to get a higher education, to somehow set themselves up in life."

The brothers' grandfather had died tragically when a shell exploded as he was scavenging for metal that could be sold as scrap, neighbors said.

After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, the family moved to Chechnya, only to have war break out in 1994 between Russian troops and Chechen separatists fighting for an independent homeland. Dzhokhar was born in 1993 and shares the name of Chechnya's first separatist leader.

The fierce battles, which reduced much of Chechnya to rubble, sent the Tsarnaevs fleeing back to Kyrgyzstan with their two young sons, a daughter and another one on the way.

"As soon as the war started they came back," said Nadezhda Nazarenko, another former neighbor in Tokmok. The children's mother "described how they were in clothes they would wear only around the house and fled the bombing, managing only to grab their documents and a few things."

Neighbors said Anzor Tsarnaev, who had studied law and previously served in the prosecutor's office, worked hard to provide for his family.

"Soon they began to live well and renovated their home," Nazarenko said. "The children did well in school and were well behaved."

Russian troops rolled into Chechnya again in 1999 and took it under Moscow's control. The same year, the Tsarnaev family moved back to Russia, according to Anzor Tsarnaev, settling briefly in Dagestan, which like neighboring Chechnya is a predominantly Muslim republic. They left from there in 2002 for the United States, joining relatives who had emigrated earlier.

Anzor Tsarnaev told The Associated Press that the move to the U.S. was motivated in part by a desire to escape discrimination against Chechens in Russia and Kyrgyzstan.

He returned about a year ago to Dagestan, which has become the epicenter of the Islamic insurgency that spilled over from Chechnya to spread throughout the North Caucasus region.

His elder son visited him last year, according to neighbors in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan.

No evidence has emerged to connect Tamerlan Tsarnaev with the insurgents, who have carried out a series of terrorist attacks in Russia. The FBI said it interviewed him in 2011 at the request of an unspecified foreign government and found nothing of concern at the time.

Anzor Tsarnaev visited his hometown in Kyrgyzstan last year, according to Tsokoev, the former neighbor. "He was very happy and proud of his sons' success in the U.S.," Tsokoev said. "We also were happy for him. He worked hard to give his children a good education."

Tsarnaev, who worked as an auto mechanic in the U.S., seems unable to comprehend that his sons could have been involved in such a gruesome bombing.

"These children were brought up with kindness," Tsarnaev said in an interview shown Saturday on Russian television. "We're a family of lawyers, and everyone who knows us knows that."

Sullivan and Associated Press writers Stephen Braun, Jack Gillum and Pete Yost reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Mike Hill, Katie Zezima, Pat Eaton-Robb and Steve LeBlanc in Boston, Rodrique Ngowi in Watertown, Mass., and Jeff Donn in Cambridge, Mass., and Leila Saralayeva in Tokmok, Kyrgyzstan,  contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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