Sources To CBS News: Boston Bombing Suspect Admits Plans To Go To NYC
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Were the Boston Marathon bombing suspects heading to New York?
Sources told CBS News on Tuesday that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, has admitted that he and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were behind the bombings and that they had plans to go to Manhattan.
Authorities gained new insight about what the brothers may have been planning next after speaking with a carjacking victim who police said was held hostage by the suspects Thursday night, CBS News reported.
According to the criminal complaint against Dzhokhar released Monday, the suspects spoke to the victim in English about their role in the Boston Marathon bombing and then carried out the rest of their exchange in Russian.
“Did you hear about the Boston explosion? I did that,” one of the suspects told the victim, the affidavit said.
The Boston Globe reported they allegedly told the victim. “We just killed a cop. We blew up the marathon and now we are going to New York. Don’t [expletive] with us.”
That set off an alarm for authorities, who quickly halted Amtrak service from Boston to New York, searched trains and prompted the NYPD to “flip on its network of license plate readers at all bridges and tunnels coming into the city” to prevent the suspects from entering Manhattan, Miller said.
Meanwhile, the number of people injured in the bombings has been revised to 282 — up from the 170 reported last week.
NEW PICTURES SURFACE OF GUN BATTLE
New photos show the suspects in a wild gun battle with police in Watertown. First they are seen crouching for cover behind their stolen vehicle. Then they fired off a barrage of bullets at police officers down the block.
Moments later authorities said Tamerlan ran down the street with explosives in hand after police went to arrest him. Dzhokhar then allegedly drove the vehicle right at cops and ran over his brother, CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported.
Witness Andrew Kitzenberg took the photos.
“I highlighted what looks like a spot on the picture, which is the older brother flying down the street,” he said.
SUSPECTS’ FAMILY SPEAKS OUT
U.S. investigators have traveled to Russia to talk to the parents of the suspect, including his mother, who said her sons are both innocent.
“What happened is a terrible thing,” said Zubeidat Tsarnaev. “But I know that my kids have nothing to do with this. I know it. I am mother. I know my kids. I know my kids.”
The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia who had been living in the U.S. for about a decade. Their sisters have broken their silence, releasing a statement through their lawyers Tuesday afternoon.
The statement on behalf of Ailina and Bella Tsarnaev reads:
“Our heart goes out [to] the victims of last week’s bombing. It saddens us to see so many innocent people hurt after such a callous act. As a family, we are absolutely devastated by the sense of loss and sorrow this has caused. We don’t have any answers but we look forward to a thorough investigation and hope to learn more. We ask the media to respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
Ailina Tsarnaev lives in West New York, N.J. where she is under police protection.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s 24-year-old widow, Katherine Russell, spoke to investigators on Friday. On Tuesday, her attorneys released a statement.
“The reports of involvement by her husband and brother-in-law came as an absolute shock to them all,” said attorney Miriam Weizenbaum.
DZHOKHAR TSARNAEV’S CONDITION IMPROVING
Meanwhile, federal officials said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s medical condition has improved.
Tsarnaev had been listed in serious condition with the throat wound and other injuries at a Boston hospital since he was captured Friday. On Tuesday, the U.S. attorney’s office said his condition had been upgraded to fair.
Monday night, he continued to answer questions in writing from his hospital bed.
“He can say about one word at a time,” Miller said.
WHAT WERE THEIR MOTIVATIONS?
Officials said the 19-year-old’s answers led them to believe he and his brother were motivated by a radical brand of Islam without major terror connections and acted alone in last week’s attack.
“His account so far is that this was driven by his brother. It was mostly done online in terms of radicalization, finding instructions and so forth and that there is no international terrorism organization or ‘Mr. Big’ behind them,” Miller said.
WEB EXTRA: Read The Complaint Against Tsarnaev (.pdf)
Tsarnaev was charged Monday in his hospital room. His brother, Tamerlan, 26, died Friday after a fierce gun battle with police.
Tsarnaev did not speak during Monday’s proceeding, except to answer “no” when he was asked if he could afford his own lawyer, according to the notes. He nodded when asked if he was able to answer some questions and whether he understood his rights.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The next step in the legal process against Tsarnaev is likely to be an indictment, in which federal prosecutors could add new charges.
State prosecutors have said they expect to charge Tsarnaev separately in the killing of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, who was shot in his cruiser Thursday night on the campus in Cambridge, CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
The theory held by investigators looking to explain the shooting of Collier is that the suspects “were short one gun, that the older brother had a gun, they wanted to get a gun for the younger brother and the fastest and most efficient way they could think of doing it was a surprise attack on a cop to take his weapon and go,” Miller said.
But the suspects weren’t able to get the gun because Collier had a locking holster, Miller reported.
“There was apparently an attempt to yank it,” Miller said, “And they couldn’t get it and left.”
Police eventually found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding in a boat in Watertown on Friday. He had apparent gunshot wounds to the head, neck, legs and hand, the FBI said in court papers.
The arresting Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority SWAT team described how Tsarnaev was finally taken into custody.
“He looked weak, he was shaky, appeared to be losing consciousness,” SWAT team member Jeff Campbell told Miller. “We waited to a point where as we were getting closer to him and both hands came up, we saw both hands were open, we bolted out in front of the shield at that point. It was the one chance we had and we wanted to end this for everybody.”
David Henneberry, the owner of the boat, was the man who discovered the suspect. The boat, ironically, is named “Slip Away II.”
“Then my eyes went to the other side of the engine box — the engine box is in the middle,” Henneberry said. “There was a body.”
Henneberry refused to be called a hero for his discovery.
“If the people killed can some… from… then I’m at peace with it,” he said tearfully.
Meanwhile, investigators have been probing the makeup of the bombs that were detonated at the Boston Marathon.
Investigators believe Tsarnaev’s older brother might have used explosive material for the bombs from fireworks he purchased at a store in New Hampshire 10 weeks earlier. Megan Kerns was the clerk.
I just remember him asking, well first him having the accent. then him asking for the biggest, loudest stuff,” Kerns said.
After Tsarnaev is indicted in the bombing, he will have an arraignment in federal court, when he will be asked to enter a plea. A probable cause hearing, at which prosecutors will spell out the basics of their case, was set for May 30.
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