More information emerges on the three friends who aided the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokar Tsarnaev.
Robel Phillipos, charged with lying to authorities investigating the Boston Marathon bombings, was the first friend to recognize Dzhokar Tsarnaev’s photo on TV news and alert the two other university students accused of aiding the suspect, according to the FBI affidavit released Wednesday.
Phillipos, Tsarnaev and Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov attended the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Phillipos, 19, of Cambridge, was studying marketing, but the university said Wednesday he is not currently enrolled.
Phillipos, a U.S. citizen, lives with his mother, who is from Ethiopia and works with refugees, WHDH-TV reported. Their Cambridge apartment is next to the gas station where the Tsarnaev brothers carjacked a vehicle before getting into the shootout with police in which 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed.
“Robel is a nice boy, very nice kid,” said neighbor Tecleverhan Mengistu, who has known the family for 15 years. “He (doesn’t) talk too much…he’s a very nice boy.”
Phillipos, wearing a white T-shirt with blue stripes and sagging, beltless jeans, appeared in court Wednesday afternoon. At one point, Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler admonished him, saying, “I suggest you pay attention to me, rather than looking down.”
He waived bail until a later date and said he could afford a lawyer. He is due back in court Monday.
If convicted, Phillipos faces a maximum sentence of eight years and a $250,000 fine.
According to the criminal complaint, Phillipos said that Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev “started to freak out” when they realized April 18 that their friend Tsarnaev was apparently involved in the bombings three days before. He told investigators he did not understand much of what they said because they spoke Russian.
Phillipos “initially said that he did not remember
going to Tsarnaev’s dormitory room on the evening of April 18″ with Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev, saying he was asleep at their New Bedford apartment, the complaint states. But in a fourth interview, on April 26, admitted to investigators that the three had gone to the dorm room, seen seven red tubular fireworks in Tsarnaev’s backpack.and then disposed of the bag.
The affidavit states:
They noticed a backpack containing fireworks. The fireworks had been opened and emptied of powder. Kadyrbayev knew when he saw the empty fireworks that Tsarnaev was involved in the Marathon bombing. Kadyrbayev decided to remove the backpack from the room in order to help his friend Tsarnaev avoid trouble. He decided to take Tsarnaev’s laptop as well because he did not want Tsarnaev’s roommate to think he was stealing or behaving suspiciously by just taking the backpack.
When it was found in a New Bedford landfill, the backpack contained fireworks, a jar of Vaseline, a UMass-Dartmouth homework assignment from Tsarnaev, and other items.
Source: USA Today