© 2024 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Tsarnaev Charged: Suspected Boston Bomber Accused Of Using WMD

A sign reading "Flying With Angels Krystle Campbell," is seen Monday as a passing MBTA bus with "Boston Strong" displayed on its message board drives through Medford, Mass. A funeral service for Campbell, one of the three people killed in the marathon bombings, was held later in the day.
C.J. Gunther
A sign reading "Flying With Angels Krystle Campbell," is seen Monday as a passing MBTA bus with "Boston Strong" displayed on its message board drives through Medford, Mass. A funeral service for Campbell, one of the three people killed in the marathon bombings, was held later in the day.

(Most recent update: 7:00 p.m. ET.)

The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was charged Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill three people and wound more than 200 in what FBI investigators said evidence shows was a coldly calculated attack.

With chilling detail, the criminal complaint filed against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev says he was seen on video placing a bag near the the finish line of the marathon, watching and reacting with no surprise as the first explosion went off down the street, and then "calmly but rapidly" walking away before the second blast occurred at the spot where moments before he had been standing. (Scroll down to see more from the complaint or to read a complete copy of it.)

The FBI's description of that scene came just before people in Boston and across Massachusetts were to pause for a moment of silence at 2:50 p.m. ET Monday — marking the time exactly one week ago when the first of the two bombs exploded. The criminal complaint filed against Tsarnaev also included a new detail: Previously, officials had said 170 to 180 people were injured in the blasts. In the complaint, they increased that to "over 200."

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was arraigned at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, where he remains in serious condition. As NPR's David Schaper reported on Morning Edition, it's not clear yet how or when Tsarnaev was wounded or who inflicted some of his injuries. It's possible he tried to kill himself. Sources familiar with the investigation into the bombings have told NPR that wounds to his neck and jaw area are preventing Tsarnaev from talking.

According to a transcript of today's initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler, Tsarnaev said one word — "No" — when he was asked if he could afford a lawyer.

At the end of the hearing — where Tsarnaev was given his Miranda warning — Bowler said she found "the defendant is alert, mentally competent, and lucid. He is aware of the nature of the proceedings."

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Dzhokhar's 26-year-old brother and the other suspect in the bombings, died after a gun battle with police early Friday in the Boston suburb of Watertown, Mass. The brothers allegedly killed an MIT campus police officer and seriously wounded a Boston transit police officer during a wild shooting spree that began Thursday night and lasted into the early hours of Friday.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured Friday evening after a harrowing day when much of the Boston area was locked down during the police manhunt. He was discovered in a boat stored in a Watertown family's backyard. Authorities are anxious to know whether anyone else may have been involved and whether any more attacks were planned.

Investigators also are trying to piece together how Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have been radicalized in recent years, NPR's Temple-Raston added Monday. They're looking to interview his wife. The Tsarnaev brothers, both Muslims, came from an ethnic Chechen family that had been living in the U.S. for about a decade. Tamerlan was a legal resident, and Dzhokhar became a U.S. citizen last year.

We'll keep an eye on developments as the day continues and update this post with the news.

Update at 8:02 p.m. ET. Feds Hand Off Boylston Street:

In a move that also had a lot of symbolic significance, federal officers handed custody of Boylston Street back to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. The Boston Police Department tweeted a picture of the moment a little bit ago.

CBS Boston reports that this means the city has begun a 5-step plan to reopen the scene of the bombings to the general public.

The station reports:

"The 5-steps include testing the area for contamination, structural building assessments, removing debris, internal building assessments and re-entry including communication and counseling."

Update at 6:31 p.m. ET. Tsarnaev Mirandized:

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was read the Miranda warning today during his initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler.

A transcript of the proceeding was filed at the United States District Court District of Massachusetts and the document was posted online by The New York Times.

Bowler tells Tsarnaev that he has the right to remain silent and not say anything that will incriminate him. She also asks Tsarnaev if he can afford a lawyer and Tsarnaev appears to answer "no."

Perhaps most importantly, the judge says, "At this time, at the conclusion of the initial appearance, I find that the defendant is alert, mentally competent, and lucid. He is aware of the nature of the proceedings."

William Fick, the federal defender representing Tsarnaev, also agreed to a voluntary detention of the suspect.

Update at 2:53 p.m. ET. A Moment Of Silence:

For about seven minutes beginning at 2:50 p.m. ET., the city of Boston fell silent. Investigators formed a semi-circle around the the site of one the blasts and bowed their heads.

The New York Stock Exchange, the House of Representatives in Washington and the Massachusetts State House also paused to remember the three killed and the more than 200 injured.

The historic Peabody Square clock, near where 8-year-old Martin Richard lived, was frozen at 2:50 p.m. During the moment of silence, reports the Boston Globe's Eric Moskowitz, it was restarted.

Update at 2:15 p.m. ET. Details From The Complaint Against Tsarnaev.

Daniel Genck, an FBI special agent, writes in the criminal complaint that:

-- On video, a man who appears to be Dzhokhar Tsarnaev can be seen placing a bag down in front of the Forum Restaurant along the marathon route. "Approximately 30 seconds before the first explosion, he lifts [a] phone to his ear as if he is speaking ... and keeps it there for approximately 18 seconds. A few seconds after he finishes the call, the large crowd of people around him can be seen reacting to the first explosion. Virtually every head turns to the east (toward the finish line) and stares in that direction in apparent bewilderment and alarm. Bomber Two [Dzhokhar Tsarnaev], virtually alone among the individuals in front of the restaurant appears calm. He glances to east and then calmly but rapidly begins moving to the west, away from the direction of the finish line. He walks away without his knapsack, having left it on the ground where he had been standing. Approximately 10 seconds later, an explosion occurs in the location where Bomber Two had placed his knapsack."

-- The victim of a carjacking Thursday night in Cambridge, Mass., has told police that one of the two men (who the agent later identifies as Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev) said during the carjacking: "Did you hear about the Boston explosion? ... I did that."

-- "A preliminary examination of the explosive devices that were discovered at the scene of the shootout in Watertown [early Friday] and in the abandoned vehicle has revealed similarities to the explosives used at the Boston Marathon."

-- In Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dormitory room at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, FBI agents found "a large pyrotechnic, a black jacket and a white hat of the same general appearance as those worn by Bomber Two at the Boston Marathon."

Update at 1:55 p.m. ET. The Criminal Complaint Against Tsarnaev:

Update at 1:38 p.m. ET. Confirmed: Tsarnaev Has Been Charged.

"Dzhokhar Tsarnaev charged with conspiring to use weapon of mass destruction against persons and property in U.S. resulting in death," the U.S. attorney's offfice for the district of Massachusetts confirms on its Twitter page.

And in a statement, the Department of Justice says he's been charged "with using a weapon of mass destruction against persons and property at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, resulting in the death of three people and injuries to more than 200 people."

We'll have more from the criminal complaint shortly.

Update at 1:05 p.m. ET. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Will Not Be Charged As Enemy Combatant, White House Says; He's Arraigned In Hospital Bed, Official Says:

Confirming what was expected, the White House has said Tsarnaev will not be treated as an "enemy combatant," but will be prosecuted in civilian courts. And as that news was breaking moments ago, WCVB-TV in Boston was reporting that Tsarnaev today was arraigned in his hospital bed, according to Gary Wente, the circuit executive for the U.S. Courts in Boston. The complaint against him has been sealed, the station added. NPR has not independently confirmed that an arraignment has happened.

For more on the legal issues involved in treating someone as an enemy combatant, check this Morning Edition report from NPR's Tovia Smith.

Update at 12:20 p.m. ET. Tamerlan Tsarnaev's "Closest American Friend" And Two Other Young Men Were Murdered Three Years Ago; Case Remains Unsolved:

After a Buzzfeed report that "associates of slain Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev now believe he may have been involved in a 2011 triple murder that claimed the life of his closest American friend, Brendan Mess," the prosecutor's office in Middlesex County, Mass., is going to go back to see if there's any connection between Tsarnaev and that unsolved crime, Reuters reports.

The wire service writes:

" 'We are definitely going to pursue any new leads,' said Stephanie Guyotte, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney's office. She said it was fair to say that investigators will check to see if Tsarnaev had anything to do with the crime."

John Allan, owner of Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts in Allston, Mass., where Tsarnaev once boxed, had earlier told the Boston Globe that the 26-year-old had once introduced Mess as his best friend. Then two years ago, the Globe wrote, "Mess and two other men were brutally killed in a Waltham apartment where they were found by police with their throats slit and their bodies covered with marijuana. The murders remain unsolved."

According to Buzzfeed, a mutual friend says Tsarnaev did not come to Mess' funeral. "A few months after Mess's murder," Buzzfeed adds, "Tsarnaev went to Russia for six months."

Guyotte, the prosecutor's spokeswoman, has also told the local Waltham Patch that the triple murders are "an active homicide case and that investigators would pursue any new leads they receive."

While friends are asking whether Tsarnaev might have been involved in the murders, The Wall Street Journal notes that the killings came at a tumultuous time in Tsarnaev's life and raises the prospect that they might have been among the reasons he appears to have turned to a radical form of Islam.

Update at 11:30 a.m. ET. Funeral For Krystle Campbell:

The funeral for 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, one of the three people killed in the bombings, is being held this hour in her hometown of Medford, Mass. The Boston Globe says "some 200 members of Teamsters Local 25 members began gathering at St. Joseph's Church before 8 a.m. today, promising to block protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church if they follow through on a threat to picket the funeral."

A memorial service for 23-year-old Lingzi Lu of China, who was a graduate student at Boston University, is planned for 7 p.m. ET Monday at the school. The third person killed at the marathon was 8-year-old Martin Richard of Dorchester, Mass. He was remembered during a Mass on Sunday at Dorchester's St. Ann Parish. Sean Collier, the 26-year-old slain MIT police officer, is to be remembered later this week.

Update at 10:45 a.m. ET. President Obama Will Observe Moment:

President Obama will also "observe a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings" at 2:50 p.m. ET, the White House says in a statement sent to reporters. He will do so in private, the statement adds.

Update at 10 a.m. ET. Wounded Officer "Shows Hopeful Signs":

"The transit police officer critically wounded in a gunbattle with the marathon bombing suspects opened his eyes, wiggled his toes and squeezed his wife's hand yesterday for the first time since he nearly bled to death Friday — hopeful signs for his doctors and family," The Boston Herald writes. "Three-year veteran MBTA cop Richard Donohue remains in critical but stable condition at the surgical intensive care unit at Mount Auburn Hospital."

Update at 8:50 a.m. ET. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Remains In Serious Condition.

The U.S. Attorney's office in Massachusetts tweets that:

"According to BIDMC marathon bombing suspect remains in serious condition this morning. Releasing info at hospital's request."

BIDMC is Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

As Monday dawned, here were some of the related headlines:

-- "Turn To Religion Split Bomb Suspects' Home." (The Wall Street Journal, behind a paywall)

-- "Dead Suspect Broke Angrily With Muslim Speakers." (The Boston Globe)

-- "Suspects Seemed Set For Attacks Beyond Boston." (The New York Times)

-- "The Inside Story" Of The Investigation. (CBS News' 60 Minutes)

-- "Should Marathon Bomber Be Treated As An Enemy Combatant?" (Morning Edition)

Note: As happens when stories such as this are developing, there will likely be reports that turn out to be mistaken. Wednesday, for example, there were reports from CNN, the AP, WBUR and others that authorities either had arrested a suspect or were about to do that. It turned out that no one had been arrested or taken into custody. We will focus on news being reported by NPR, other news outlets with expertise, and statements from authorities who are in a position to know what's going on. And if some of that information turns out to be wrong, we'll update.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Journalism at this station is made possible by donors who value local reporting. Donate today to keep stories like this one coming. It is thanks to your generosity that we can keep this content free and accessible for everyone. Thanks!