The entire Boston area is on a lockdown, as officials fear that a wounded Dzhokhar Tsarnaev might strike again after his brother was killed this morning by police. Law enforcement officials say the brothers, suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, were also responsible for fatally shooting an MIT campus police officer and severely wounding a transit officer.
In a wild, dramatic day in the Boston area, particularly in Watertown, officials closed all schools and public transit, told all businesses in the city to remain closed, and urged everyone in the region to stay in their homes, in what was called a “shelter in place” advisory. Drivers were told to stay off the streets and even taxi service was suspended.
The massive manhunt for the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, while focused on Watertown initially, spread out to the entire region as law enforcement officials throughout New England chased down leads.
When Boston authorities notified transit police that the surviving suspect may have boarded the last Amtrak train from Boston bound for New York City early morning on Friday, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police, which has authority over the tracks in New York and Connecticut, along with the police from Norwalk, Conn., stopped that train between the East Norwalk and Westport stations but didn’t find the suspect.
Officials at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth evacuated the entire campus after it was confirmed that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a student there. School officials wouldn’t disclose what he is studying or whether he had lived on campus. They said the campus was closed “out of an abundance of caution.”
In an emotional, distraught appearance before the media, the uncle of the men, Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in Montgomery Village, Md., told reporters that he was ashamed of their actions, bitterly calling them “losers” and sternly denouncing the bombings. As he pledged his love for America, the uncle urged the surviving brother to turn himself into the authorities.
“I say Dzhokhar, if you’re alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness,” said Tsarni, who said that his family was estranged from his nephews’ family. He said that their father, who recently moved back to Russia, had worked “fixing cars” in America.
Tsarni said that the family had moved to Cambridge in 2003 from Kyrgyzstan, where Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed this morning, was born. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born in Dagestan, he said. Tsarni said he hadn’t seen his nephews since December 2005.
Officials had initially reported that the two men were from Chechnya, but they have lived in the U.S. since they were very young. Chechnya is a predominantly Muslim territory in southern Russia that sought independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since then it has been engaged in two bloody wars with Moscow. The underground groups that have staged attacks in Russia have embraced fundamentalist Islam.
The Tsarnaev family — two boys and two girls, in addition to the parents — lived briefly in Makhachkala, the capital of the Dagestan region, near Chechnya. They left Dagestan for the United States in 2002.
On Vkontakte, Russia’s most popular social media platform, the younger brother, Dzhokhar, says that his worldview is “Islam” and “the main thing in life” is “career and money.”
At Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Massachusetts, a former schoolmate of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said he was “very sweet.”
“I never heard anyone say a bad word about him,” the classmate said.
Meron Woldemariam, 17, the manager of the school volleyball team that Tsarnaev had played for, said that he had left the team in the middle of the season to wrestle. She said he was sociable, friendly and fun to talk to.
“In such a way, the figures who are being spoken about did not live in Chechnya at a mature age, and if they became ‘bad guys,’ then this is a question that should be put to the people who raised them,” he said.
Federal officials are investigating any travel by the brothers outside the United States, perhaps to receive training. “They will take these guys’ lives apart,” one senior retired law enforcement official told the media.
The older brother apparently traveled to Turkey in 2003 with three other people with the same surname, and stayed for 10 days.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev said online that he thought he could some day be selected to box for the U.S. in the Olympics But USA Boxing spokeswoman Julie Goldsticker said, “he was not close to making an Olympic team or national team.” She added that “as a non-citizen, he would have been precluded from competing in any qualifying tournaments or USA Boxing national events. In addition, he lost his first bout in the only national tournament he competed in, which was the 2009 Golden Gloves.”
In Washington, ranking Senate Judiciary Committee member Chuck Grassley exploited the incident for political advantage, warning that Congress must take into account the events in Boston this week when working on comprehensive immigration reform, to ensure “those who would do us harm do not receive benefits under the immigration laws.”