Boston Bombers: News Shows Scramble to Book Suspects' Friends and Family
While a massive manhunt continues to apprehend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who remains at large after his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout early Friday, new details are emerging on two suspects in the Boston Marathon attacks.
From NBC's Today headquarters in New York, Savannah Guthrie interviewed Dzhokhar's former high school classmate, Sierra Schwartz, who called into the show and described the 19-year-old as "very normal ... he had lots of friends." Schwartz said the news came as an "incredible shock" to those who knew him.
Guthrie also spoke with Robin Young, host of the PRI public radio show Here and Now, whose nephew is friends with Dzokhar. "I can't tell you enough of what a beautiful young man this is. ... People just loved him," said Young, who recalled the suspect as "light" and "airy." She posted a photo of Dzhokhar and her nephew on Twitter.
ABC News reached the suspects' father, Anzor Tsarnaev, who lives in Russia. Anzor said his sons are innocent and revealed he had spoken with them by phone about the bombings. "If they killed him, then all hell would break loose," said Anzor of Dzhokhar, whom he said he would tell to "surrender peacefully."
ABC News' New York affiliate station reported that it had talked with a New Jersey woman who called the two her "brothers" and said she was "sorry" about the tragic events on Monday.
Five hours after the FBI released their photos, the Tsarnaev brothers robbed a 7/11 store in Cambridge, Mass., and became involved in a shootout with campus police at Massachusetts Institute of Technology during which one MIT police officer was killed in the line of fire. They then carjacked a Mercedes SUV and led a chase to the Boston-area town of Watertown, where Tamerlan, 26, died in a violent confrontation with police.
The brothers are Cambridge residents who emigrated legally from Chechnia more than 10 years ago. Tamerlan attended Bunker Hill Community College while Dzhokhar is a former student at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.
Meanwhile in Montgomery, Md., Today and other outlets dispatched correspondents outside the home of the suspects' uncle, who was being questioned by the FBI. Later Friday morning, the uncle, Ruslan Tsarni -- attempting to clear his family name -- proclaimed: "No, my family has NOTHING to do with that family!!!"
When asked what could possibly have led them to set off twin bombs on the marathon finish line, killing three and wounding more than 150, Tsarni responded: "BEING LOSERS! Not being able to settle themselves and thereby hating everyone who did."
The Atlantic Wire reports that as of Thursday, Dzhokhar was active on social media. On Facebook, he listed his current city as Boston, his world view as Islam and his personal priorities as "career and money."
"I met him when I was in seventh grade and he was just a great kid," a former classmate, Steven Owens, told ABC. "He was fun to be around. Very studious, very smart. I don't remember a time when he was ever having trouble in school. He was a great athlete. Great to be around."
Added Larry Aaronson, Dzhokhar's neighbor and former teacher at Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school: "I cannot [find] words to describe how unexpected this is."
According to Slate, Tamerlan participated in 2009's National Gloves Boxing Competition in Salt Lake City, Utah. In a photo essay by the photographer Johannes Hirn entitled "Will Box for Passport," he is quoted as saying: "I don't have a single American friend, I don't understand them."
A YouTube account believed to be that of Tamerlan's has also surfaced online.