WASHINGTON, May 22 (RIA Novosti) – A Florida man with ties to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot and killed early Wednesday morning after attacking an FBI agent during questioning, law enforcement officials said.
The victim, identified as Ibragim Todashev, was shot at a condominium complex in Orlando, Florida. The FBI confirmed a man died while one of its agents was “conducting official duties.”
“The agent, two Massachusetts State Police troopers, and other law enforcement personnel were interviewing an individual in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing investigation when a violent confrontation was initiated by the individual. During the confrontation, the individual was killed and the agent sustained non-life threatening injuries,” said the FBI in a statement.
NBC News reported Todashev had confessed to his involvement in a triple slaying in Massachusetts on Sept. 11, 2011. Three men were found in an apartment with their throats slashed and their bodies covered with marijuana. One of the murdered men was friends with Tsarnaev, and officials were investigating whether Tsarnaev was involved in the murders according to media reports.
Officials told NBC News that Todashev became violent as he was about to sign a written statement confessing to his involvement in the triple murder, and attacked the FBI agent with a knife.
Florida media reports, quoting Khusn Taramiv, a friend of the victim who was also questioned Tuesday with Todashev in connection with the Boston bombing investigation, stated that Todashev, like Tsarnaev, originally hailed from Chechnya, a restive and mainly Muslim region of southern Russia.
Russia warned the United States about Tsarnaev in 2011, saying he had become a follower of radical Islam. Russia’s assistance to the US in the wake of the Boston attack has spurred talk in both countries of a need to intensify Russia-US counterterrorism cooperation in general.
Todashev had once lived in Boston and was a “casual friend” of Tsarnaev as both were involved at some point in mixed martial-arts fighting, WESH television station reported.
The report said that Todashev and Tsarnaev had spoken by phone or Skype for about five minutes around one week before the April 15 twin bomb attacks in Boston that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.
The FBI questioned both Todashev and Taramiv on Tuesday and Taramiv told local media that investigators said they needed to question Todashev for several hours again on Wednesday.
"They told me they're going to bring him back," Taramiv told WESH-TV. "They never brought him back. He felt inside he was going to get shot."
Tsarnaev was killed during a shootout with police near Boston several days after the Marathon bomb attack. His younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is also suspected of having taken part in the attack, was captured wounded but alive. He remains hospitalized and is expected to face trial on terrorism charges.
US media reported last week that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev scrawled a message shortly before his capture – and has since reiterated to investigators – that the Boston attack was an act of retaliation for the US killing of Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The story above has been updated with a new headline, new lead paragraph, new information about Todashev’s suspected involvement in the Massachusetts slaying, and a statement about the incident from the FBI.