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Classmates, Family Shocked At Tsarnaev Brothers’ Alleged Terrorist Attack

Ruslan Tsarni

Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. (Credit: CBS 2)

BOSTON (CBSNewYork) — Most who knew Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev believed the brothers now accused of the Boston Marathon bombings were living the American dream.

But as CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, that impression was shattered by the images that surfaced on surveillance video from the bombing scene.

Eric Machado, a high school classmate of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s, said he recognized his old friend immediately in the surveillance images.

“The hat was signature; it was turned backwards on his head,” Machado said. “No one wants to believe their classmate from high school is, quote unquote, a terrorist.”

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born in 1993 in Dagestan, the Russian republic neighboring Chechnya. His older brother Tamerlan, who was killed by police in a Thursday night shootout, was born in 1986 in Kyrgyzstan.

Dzhokhar came to America in 2002 and became a U.S. citizen in Boston on Sept. 11, 2002. He graduated from the prestigious Cambridge Ringe and Latin High School in 2011.

Classmates, some of whom asked not to be identified, said the suspect they saw on the news was not the boy they remembered.

“He had a lot of friends; diverse type of friends,” one classmate said. “He was cheerful, never really mellow. He was never really mad at the world.”

“He was just regular, pretty much. Nothing, like, caught me off guard that made suspect anything, which is why I’m really surprised about what happened because I didn’t expect that at all from him,” said classmate Deana Beaulieu.

Dzhokhar was a pre-med student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and was active on a Russian-language social networking site where he listed his worldview as “Islam.”

Tamerlan’s alleged involvement was less surprising. He studied engineering at Bunker Hill Community College, but dropped out a few years ago.

Tamerlan had been under FBI surveillance for at least three years, and he had a YouTube channel that linked to at least three videos about Jihad.

He was a skilled Golden Gloves boxer, who reportedly hoped to take his talent to the U.S. Olympics. ut between 2009 and 2011, those around him began to notice that he was becoming detached.

He was arrested in 2009 for assaulting his girlfriend, and in 2010, he described himself as, “very religious; I don’t have a single friend because I don’t understand them.”

While Dzhokhar was described by his fellow students as a “pothead,” Tamerlan had jihadi videos posted to his YouTube account and was interviewed by FBI about suspected extremist ties in 2011, CBS News reported.

Former boxing teammate Julian Pollard said Tamerlan changed over the years.

“The way he carried himself; he was much more humble. He only spoke about his faith. He was big into religion,” Pollard said.

Meanwhile, police have been guarding the West New York, N.J., apartment home residence of Alina Tsarnaeva, the sister of the two suspects. FBI agents were seen leaving the building Friday night with what was believed to be evidence for the case.

Meanwhile, Tsarnaeva expressed her shock.

“I’m not OK, just like anyone else is not OK. No one is OK right now,” she said. “It’s very shocking news.”

The brothers’ uncle was irate as he tried to make sense of the accusations against them.

“Of course we’re ashamed!” said Ruslan Tsarni. “Yes, we’re ashamed! They’re children of my brother!”

Tsarni had no sympathy for his nephews as he spoke to reporters Friday.

“Being losers, not being able to settle themselves, and thereby just hating everyone who did,” he said.

Another uncle, Alvi Tsarni, was also in disbelief.

“I can’t believe this. It’s not possible. My nephews can’t do like this stuff. No way,” he said.

As for the two men’s parents, they denied the allegations. Their father spoke through a Russian translator.

“Somebody clearly framed them. I don’t know who exactly did it, but someone did. They framed them,” said Anzor Tsarnaev.

Their mother, reached by telephone in Russia, insisted her sons were not terrorists.

“My youngest was raised, actually like raised, from 8 years, he was raised in America; and my oldest son, he was really really, properly raised in our house,” said Zubeidat Tsarnaeva. “Nobody talked about terrorism.”

And an aunt in Toronto was confused, saying the evidence did not add up and demanding proof that her nephews were responsible.

“As far as I know them they were fine, in good health, in good mind. What happened?” she said. “I just hope this is not true, because I don’t have evidence.”

On Thursday night, the suspects shot and killed an MIT police officer before carjacked a man in a Mercedes-Benz, keeping him with them and releasing him at a gas station in Cambridge, police said. The man was not injured.

Authorities said both suspects were in the Mercedes when they encountered police, and then hurled explosives and exchanged gunfire with officers.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot and killed by police. After a manhunt on Friday that shut down the Boston area, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was also captured, after being found bleeding and hiding in a boat a backyard.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was reported in serious condition Saturday morning.

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