Most Family Members Stand by Bombing Suspects

Updated: 04/19/2013 4:34 PM KSTP.com By: Maricella Miranda

Most family members of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects are standing by them, and expressing doubts that the two brothers were actually responsible for the bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 180 others.
    
Their sister -- whose home was searched by the FBI today in New Jersey -- told reporters she wasn't sure the accusations against her brothers were true. Police said she's cooperating with the investigation. They describe her as "heartbroken, surprised and upset."
    
Their father, speaking from southern Russia, insists his sons "were set up." He says he saw on TV that his older son, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed by authorities, and that 19-year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev is being intensely pursued. The father describes the 19-year-old as a "true angel" and an "intelligent boy."
    
In Toronto, an aunt of the two suspects says the older one recently became a devout Muslim who prayed five times a day. She said she doesn't believe they could have been involved in Monday's attack.
    
But an uncle who lives in Maryland says he's "ashamed" of his nephews. He urged the 19-year-old to turn himself in and to "ask for forgiveness from the victims."
    
When he was asked what might have provoked the bombings, Ruslan Tsarni said, "Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves." He said his nephews had struggled in the U.S. and ended up "thereby just hating everyone."

Suspect's Sister

The FBI on Friday removed a computer from the New Jersey home of a sister of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. Police said she was cooperating with the investigation and was "heartbroken, surprised and upset," though she told reporters she wasn't sure the accusations against her brothers were true.
    
Police in West New York, who did not immediately release the woman's name, cordoned off the three-story brick building across the Hudson River from New York City as federal agents remained inside.
    
Public records listed an Ailina Tsarnaev as living at the address.
    
The woman, speaking earlier through a crack in the door, told News12 New Jersey and The Star-Ledger that she is sorry for the families that lost loved ones "the same way I lost my loved one."
    
"I'm hurt for everyone that's been hurt," she told the TV station and newspaper.
    
Her brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed overnight in a shootout with police outside Boston. Her younger brother remains at large.
    
"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."
    
She said she hadn't seen him in a long time.
    
"I have no idea what got into them," she said.
    
West New York Police Director Michael Indri confirmed that the woman speaking with the FBI was a sister of the bombing suspects. He said she was cooperating with the FBI.
    
"She's heartbroken, surprised and upset like we all are," Indri said.
    
A woman who described herself as a friend of Ailina Tsarnaev described a different relationship between the woman and the elder brother.
    
Vicki Colon, of Passaic, said the woman feared him because "he used to beat her."
    
Colon said she met the two brothers during a visit to Massachusetts a couple years ago. She said the younger brother was very quiet.
    
The sister last spoke to Colon on April 6, Colon's birthday. Colon said she saw a Facebook posting Thursday night that led her to believe the woman may not have known her brothers had been identified as suspects.
    
"It just said, 'God is great, I love my family,' basically," Colon said.

Police Call Off Vehicle Search

Massachusetts State Police are calling off a search for a green Honda Civic that has been linked to the suspects in the marathon bombings.
    
Authorities initially said the at-large suspect in the bombings may have been driving the 1999 Civic, but police said later Friday that the car is in their possession and they are no longer looking for it.
    
Authorities in Connecticut urged people earlier Friday to be on the lookout for a gray Honda CRV, but police later said that vehicle had been recovered in Boston.
    
Nineteen-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is the target of a massive manhunt. His brother Tamerlan was also identified as a suspect in Monday's twin bombings and was killed in a night of violent clashes with police.

Bombing Suspect Traveled to Russia

Government officials say Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled to Russia last year and returned to the U.S. six months later.
    
The 26-year-old Tsarnaev died in a police shootout overnight.
    
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they couldn't publicly talk about an investigation in progress. One says that Tsarnaev traveled out of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
    
Investigators believe that Tsarneaev and his brother Dzhokhar are responsible for the deadly Boston Marathon terrorist attack. Dzhokhar is still being sought. The ethnic Chechen brothers are from Dagestan, which neighbors Chechnya in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, an uncle said.
    
One official said there are no known ties at this point to Chechen extremist groups.

Suspects Slept in SUV

Massachusetts State Police say a pair of brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings spent the night in a Honda CRV and used it to carjack a Mercedes SUV.
    
Police said Friday morning at a Watertown news conference that one of the brothers stayed with the carjacking victim for a few minutes and then let him go.
    
They say one brother drove away in the CRV, and the other one drove away in the Mercedes.
    
Police say one then ditched the CRV and reunited with his brother in the Mercedes. Authorities say both suspects were in the Mercedes when they encountered police and hurled explosives at officers. Twenty-six-year-old suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed.
    
The CRV was later recovered in Boston.
    
Nineteen-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remains on the loose.

Dartmouth Closes Campus

Students at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth tell The Associated Press that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was on campus this week after the bombings.
    
Tsarnaev is a student at the school, about an hour's drive south of Boston.
    
Students say he lived on the third floor of a campus dormitory. Harry Danso, who lives on the same floor, tells the AP he saw him in the dorm hallway this week and Tsarnaev was calm.
    
Authorities are swarming the campus. The school was evacuated Friday morning amid a manhunt for Tsarnaev.
    
FBI and SWAT teams have been seen on the campus. A Massachusetts State Police armored truck arrived around 1 p.m. Friday, and two helicopters were seen arriving earlier.

Suspect Killed Student at Community College

The Boston Marathon bombing suspect who was killed overnight had studied accounting as a part-time community college student.
    
Bunker Hill Community College officials say that 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a student there for three semesters: fall 2006, spring 2007 and fall 2008.
    
Spokeswoman Patricia Brady said Friday they had little information on Tsarnaev other than that he studied accounting at the Boston school.
    
Tsarnaev had been known to the FBI as Suspect No. 1 and was seen in surveillance footage in a black baseball cap.
    
The other suspect is his 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar. He was a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

More About the Suspects

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an amateur boxer who had hoped to fight on the U.S. Olympic team, a man who said he had no American friends. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrestled at a prestigious high school, won a scholarship from his city and went on to university.
    
Two brothers, one dead, one alive and at large. After hours when they were known only by grainy images of two men in baseball caps, a portrait gradually emerged Friday of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.
    
They had come to the United States about 10 years ago from a Russian region near Chechnya, according to an uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md. They had two sisters. As kids they rode bikes and skateboards on quiet Norfolk Street in Cambridge, Mass.
    
But their lives appeared to take different turns - at least until this week, when a video caught them together on Boylston Street, moments before two bombs unleashed terror at the finish line of America's most famous race.
    
Tamerlan, believed to be 26 when he was killed overnight in a shootout, dropped out after studying accounting at Bunker Hill Community College for just three semesters.
    
"I don't have a single American friend. I don't understand them." he was quoted as saying in a photo package that appeared in a Boston University student magazine in 2010.
    
He identified himself then as a Muslim and said he did not drink or smoke: "God said no alcohol." He said he hoped to fight for the U.S. Olympic team and become a naturalized American. He said he was studying to become an engineer.
    
More recently, Tamerlan - married, with a young daughter - became a more devout Muslim, according to his aunt, Maret Tsarnaeva. She told reporters outside her Toronto home Friday that the older brother had taken to praying five times a day.
    
Tamerlan traveled to Russia last year and returned to the U.S. six months later, government officials told The Associated Press. More wasn't known about his travels. According to a crime website he was arrested, in 2009, for domestic assault on a girlfriend.
    
Dzhokhar, meanwhile, was described by friends as well-adjusted and well-liked in both high school and college.
    
"I'm in complete shock," said Rose Schutzberg, 19, who graduated high school with Dzhokhar and now attends Barnard College in New York. "He was a very studious person. He was really popular. He wrestled. People loved him."
    
In fact, Schutzberg said, she had "a little crush" on him in high school. "He's a great guy," she said. "He's smart, funny. He's definitely a really sweet person, very kind hearted, kind soul."
    
Dzhokhar, 19, attended the prestigious Cambridge Rindge and Latin school, a public school just blocks from Harvard Yard, participating on the wrestling team. In May 2011, his senior year, he was awarded a $2,500 scholarship from the city to pursue higher education, according to a news release at the time. That scholarship was celebrated with a reception at city hall.
    
He was currently attending the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Mass., university officials said Friday. He lived on the third floor of the Pine Dale dormitory. Harry Danso, who lives on the same floor, told the AP he saw him in a dorm hallway this week.
    
"He was regular, he was calm," said Danso.
    
The school would not say what he was studying. The father of the suspects, Anzor Tsarnaev, told the AP his younger son was "a second-year medical student," though he graduated high school in 2011.
    
"My son is a true angel ...," he said by telephone from the Russian city of Makhachkala. "He is such an intelligent boy. We expected him to come on holidays here."
    
Dzhokhar's page on the Russian social networking site Vkontakte says that before moving to the United States, he attended School No. 1 in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in Russia's North Caucasus that has become an epicenter of the Islamic insurgency that spilled over from Chechnya. On the site, he describes himself as speaking Chechen as well as English and Russian. His world view is described as "Islam" and he says his personal goal is "career and money."
    
Deana Beaulieu, 20, lives two blocks away from the suspects' home on Norfolk Street, went to high school with Dzhokhar and was friendly with his sister.
    
Beaulieu says she didn't recall Dzhokhar expressing any political views. "I thought he was going to branch off to college, and now this is what he's done. ... I don't understand what the hell happened, what set him off like this."
    
Florida Addy, 19, of Lynn, Mass., said she lives in the same college dorm with Dzhokhar this year and was on the same floor last year. She called him "drug" (pronounced droog), the Russian word for friend, a word he taught her.
    
Addy said she saw Dzhokhar last week, when she bummed a cigarette from him. They would occasionally hang out in his room or at the New Bedford apartment of Russian students he knew. He generally wore a hoodie or a white t-shirt and sweatpants, and spent a lot of his time with other kids from Russia.
    
She described him as down to earth and friendly, even a little mysterious, but in a charming way. She had just learned that he had a girlfriend, although she did not attend the university.
    
"He was nice. He was cool. I'm just in shock," she said.
    
Tim Kelleher, a wrestling coach for a Boston school that competed in 2010 against Dzhokhar's team, said the young man was a good wrestler, and that he'd never heard him express any political opinions.
    
"He was a tough, solid kid, just quiet," said Kelleher, now a Boston public school teacher.
    
Tamerlan was more defined by athletics, and clearly proud of his boxing prowess. USA Boxing spokeswoman Julie Goldsticker said Tamerlan registered with the group as an amateur boxer from 2003 to 2004, and again from 2008 to 2010. He competed as a heavyweight in the National Golden Gloves competition in Salt Lake City on May 4, 2009, losing his only bout.
    
In photographs that appeared in the student magazine, including one in which he posed with his shirt off, Tamerlan has the muscular arms of a boxer, and is dressed in flashy street-clothes that he said were "European style."
    
Gene McCarthy, who trained Tamerlan at the Somerville Boxing Club, described him as a "nice kid" who already was a good fighter before he showed up at the gym years ago.
    
"He never lost a bout for me," McCarthy said. "He had some skills from his father before he showed up in my gym." McCarthy described the young man as "very intelligent" and recalled that he also played classical piano.
    
Another boxing trainer who worked with Tamerlan, Kendrick Ball, called him "a real cocky guy ... If anybody's better than him, he doesn't let you know you're better than him."
    
Before moving to Dagestan, the Tsarnaev family lived in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia. Leila Alieva, who went to school with Tamerlan in the Kyrgyz town of Tokmok, remembers an educated family and a nice boy.
    
"He was ... a good student, a jock, a boxer. He used to win all the (boxing) competitions in town," she said.  "I can't believe they were involved in the explosions, because Tamerlan was a very positive guy, and they were not very Islamist. They were Muslim, but had a secular lifestyle."
    
In a local news article in 2004, Tamerlan spoke about his boxing and his views of America.
    
"I like the USA," Tamerlan was quoted as saying in The Sun of Lowell, Mass. "America has a lot of jobs. That's something Russia doesn't have. You have a chance to make money here if you are willing to work."
    
Friends: Don't Kill Yourself, Harm More

Two high school friends of the at-large suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings are appealing to him not to hurt anyone else and to turn himself in.
    
Ashraful Rahman and Essah Chisholm attended Cambridge Rindge & Latin School with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
    
Rahman tells The Associated Press in a Facebook message that they want Tsarnaev to stop and appeals to him to "not kill himself or do any further harm to anyone." He describes him as a hardworking wrestler who was calm and chill, someone who never did anything wrong. He says he wants to know why he did all this and wants him to reach out to his friends.
    
Chisholm tells the AP in a Facebook message that he wants to tell his friend not to kill himself or hurt anyone.

Noveck reported from New York. Associated Press writers Bridget Murphy, Pat Eaton-Robb and Adam Geller in Boston; Michelle R. Smith in Providence, R.I.; Laura Wides-Munoz in Cambridge, Mass.; Erika Niedowski in Dartmouth, Mass.; Michael Kunzelman in New Orleans; Eric Tucker in Montgomery Village, Md.; Michael Biesecker in Raleigh; Justin Pritchard in Los Angeles; Eileen Sullivan, Jack Gillum, Steve Braun, Pete Yost, Alicia Caldwell, and Kim Dozier in Washington; Charmaine Noronha in Toronto; Arsen Mollayev in Makhachkala, Russia; Leila Saralayeva in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; and Vladimir Isachenkov and Lynn Berry in Moscow contributed to this report. The AP News Research Center also contributed.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)