Two Chechen brothers who are suspected
in the deadly Boston Marathon bombing and more recently alleged to have led
police through a fatal overnight car chase and gunfight have received both vocal
support and admonishment from factions of their split family, some of whom
claim they were set up to take the fall for the attack.
The father of suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev has come out in support of his children, suggesting they are patsies used by those actually behind Monday’s bombing, in which three people were killed and scores more injured .
His sentiments were shared by an emotional Canadian aunt, who told reporters in Toronto that pictures of her nephews taken on the day of the bombing were staged by “whoever is looking for people to be blamed for this attack.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and Tamerlan, 26, were named as suspects on Thursday in the Boston Marathon bombing. The pair reportedly led area police on a fatal chase across Boston and its suburbs through the night. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police and Dzhokhar was arrested Friday night at the conclusion of a massive manhunt.
Anzor Tsarnaev, who previously lived in Boston with his children but more recently returned to the Russian city of Makhachkala, told ABC News that he spoke to his children on the day of the bombing and they assured him they were fine.
He told the network that knows they are innocent, but urged his youngest son to turn himself in, adding that he fears Dzhokhar may be marked for death.
"If they killed him, then all hell would break loose," he said. "If they kill my second child, I will know that it is an inside job, a hit job. The police are to blame. Someone, some organization is out to get them."
Yahoo! News reporter Liz Goodwin reports that Boston residents were ordered to remain in their homes on Friday as police conducted a massive manhunt in search of the suspect. Boston Police announced on Twitter at about 9 p.m. that they had taken a suspect into custody.
The manhunt followed a night of chaos, in which the brothers led police on a chase through the city and suburbs. One police officer was killed and another was reportedly injured in the melee.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was confirmed dead on Friday. According to NBC News, he was found with an IED on his body. Officials identified the remaining suspect as his brother Dzhokhar.
[ The Lookout: Boston manhunt: One suspect dead, second on the run ]
Maret Tsarnaeva, the suspects’ aunt, spoke to reporters on Friday from her home in Etobicoke – a neighbourhood in Toronto’s west end. Tsarnaeva said she would not believe her nephews were responsible for the fatal bombing until the FBI was able to provide her with irrefutable proof.
"Give us evidence," she
told reporters on Friday, in a video from CTV News.
"If no one else is asking for it, give me evidence. I am a lawyer from
back home. I have participated in court sessions where I had to prove innocence
of other accused people.
"For me to be convinced that these nephews of mine committed these kinds of atrocities, it cannot be taken lightly. Convince me."
Tsarnaeva described her nephews as normal young men who were both very athletic and smart. The elder Tamerlan, who was killed in a police shootout, was married to a Christian woman and had a two-year-old daughter. The younger Dzhokhar is very clever and recently started praying more often.
She said she helped their family escape from their troubled homeland and get U.S. refugee status in the early 2000s. She added that the children loved their lives in Boston.
“They always liked it. If they like it they live there. If they don’t like it they would leave,” she said.
While factions of the Tsarnaev family have come out staunchly refuting the allegations against the brothers, other members of the family were not ready to dismiss them.
Ruslan Tsarni, an uncle living in Maryland, has been very vocal in the wake of his nephews being named suspects in the attack. He spoke to reporters on Friday, urging Dzhokhar to turn himself in.
CBS News reports that Tsarni said he hasn’t been in touch with the boys since 2009 and called Tamerlan, who dropped out of school when his child was born, a loser.
"I would call him a loser. As much as I expected from my brother's children – that they would finish school and go to college. I heard he has not been in school. I'm not even sure what he has been doing....
"I just wish they never existed. I am wordless, I am wordless. I am shocked…The people who did this do not deserve to exist on this earth.”
[ The Lookout: Gunman kills police officer at MIT in Boston ]
CTV News reported that Tsarnaeva believed Tamerlan was trying to find his place in the world. He was happily married with a child, but could have done more.
“He apparently had not found himself yet in America. It isn't easy. My younger brother Ruslan had very high expectations of him,” she said. “He knew he was smart, he knows he could use his potential. When he found out he dropped out of university, Ruslan was desperate."
Dzhokhar and Tamerlan have two sisters in the Boston area, both of whom have children. According to Tsarnaev, their parents recently returned to the Russian city of Makhachkala.
Details of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan continue to come forward, but it appears the pair has lived in the U.S. for more than a decade. The Boston Globe reports that Dzhokhar is a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Tamerlan was reportedly a boxer with U.S. Olympic aspirations, but did not feel connected to his community.
“I don’t have a single American friend,” Tamerlan said in a photo essay, according to the Globe. “I don’t understand them.”
Maret Tsarnaeva said she has reviewed photographs from the day of the bombing and says he believes they don’t prove anything. She wondered why the two were walking through the crowd in single file, but says it doesn’t mean they were guilty.
"I am suspicious that this was staged. That the picture was staged (by) whoever needs this. Whoever is looking for people to be blamed for this attack," she said, according to CTV News.