April 22, 2013

Reports: Agents question Boston bombing suspect

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is reportedly answering in writing because he has a throat wound.

Sari Horwitz, Jerry Markon and Jenna Johnson / The Washington Post

The suspected Boston Marathon bomber has begun responding to investigators' questions, according to multiple media reports late Sunday, doing so mostly in writing because he has a serious throat wound that makes speaking difficult.

Two-year-old Wesley Brillant
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Two-year-old Wesley Brillant of Natick, Mass., stands Sunday in front of a memorial to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings on Boylston Street. Officials plan to hold a moment of silence Monday at 2:50 p.m., the time the first bomb went off.

Jim Bourg/Reuters

Boston Marathion Explosions
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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

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For complete coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and manhunt, click here.

Federal investigators were communicating Sunday with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, according to reports from NBC News, ABC News, USA Today, Newsday and others. The reports quoted anonymous federal or law enforcement sources.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors were preparing to file charges against Tsarnaev, 19, who was in serious but stable condition with a gunshot wound to the neck, and possibly other injuries.

The full extent of Tsarnaev's injuries, and whether he sustained them in a gun battle with police more than 12 hours before his capture Friday evening, remained unclear. Officials at Beth Israel -- the same hospital where his older brother, Tamerlan, 26, was pronounced dead Friday after a shootout with police in the Boston suburb of Watertown -- referred questions about Dzhokhar's injuries to the FBI, which declined to comment.

Authorities are eager to question Tsarnaev about his alleged motives in last Monday's bombing, which killed three people, injured more than 170 and rattled the nation more than a decade after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They also want to determine from him whether any international or domestic terrorist groups were involved. Islamist separatists in the Russian province of Dagestan, where Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited last year, on Sunday denied any connection to the bombing.

A special team of interrogators from the CIA, FBI and the military was brought in to question the suspect. Boston's mayor and police commissioner said Sunday that the brothers appear to have acted alone.

As the shaken city remembered the victims at church services Sunday and Massachusetts prepared to hold a moment of silence on Monday at the time the first bomb went off, a fuller portrait of Tsarnaev emerged, one that authorities described as chilling.

Zach Bettencourt, a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth -- where Tsarnaev was enrolled -- said Tsarnaev casually discussed the bombing with him only a day later. Bettencourt, 20, noticed Tsarnaev sitting on a bench at the gym, listening to his iPod.

When Bettencourt brought up the bombing, he said that Tsarnaev responded, "Tragedies like this happen all the time." He said the two of them then discussed the issue, but he did not remember the exact words of their conversation.

Law enforcement officials confirmed that Tsarnaev went back to school after the marathon bombing, before the FBI released pictures of the two brothers to the world on Thursday and described them as suspects. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a night of mayhem in which the brothers allegedly carjacked a Mercedes-Benz sport-utility vehicle and fatally shot an MIT police officer.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, his body bloodied, was discovered by a Watertown resident in a boat kept in his back yard Friday evening, minutes after police announced the lifting of a lockdown that had paralyzed the Boston area. The FBI used a bullhorn for about 25 minutes to try to coax him out and then threw flash-bang grenades. A robot lifted the cover on the boat to make sure there were no explosives inside. Tsarnaev was then taken into custody, weak and bleeding.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said Sunday that officials had recovered video that shows the surviving suspect putting his backpack down and moving away from it shortly before it exploded. The video is "pretty clear about his involvement and pretty chilling, frankly," Patrick said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

a race organized by the New York Road Runners
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Police officers monitor a race organized by the New York Road Runners on Sunday at Central Park in New York City. Heightened security was in place in response to the Boston Marathon bombings. In Boston, the police commissioner said the arsenal of weapons and unexploded bombs possessed by the two suspects suggested they were planning other attacks.

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

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In this photograph made with a fisheye lens, people attend an interfaith service held near a makeshift memorial on Boylston Street, near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Sunday.

The Associated Press

 


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