Boston Suspect’s Friend in Custody: ‘I’m an Average Guy’

A YouTube video uploaded last year shows Robel Phillipos, one of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's three college friends currently held by police.

Robel Phillipos (YouTube)
Robel Phillipos (YouTube)

UPDATED Thursday, May 2, 10:52 a.m. EDT: A YouTube video uploaded last year shows Robel Phillipos, one of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s three college friends currently held by police, CBS News reports. In what appears to be a clip uploaded for a March 2012 school project, Phillipos says, “I grew up in a very mild-mannered way of living. I wasn’t too poor, I wasn’t too rich. I was, you know, an average guy.” Phillipos and two other students from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth were arrested and accused Wednesday of removing a backpack containing fireworks from Tsarnaev’s dorm room three days after the attack. The other two students, Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice, and Phillipos was charged with making false statements, NBC News reports. Lawyers for the suspects say their clients had no idea the attack was being planned

UPDATED Wednesday, May 1, 2:30 p.m. EDT: “Three additional suspects taken into custody in Marathon bombing case. Details to follow,” the Boston Police Department tweeted today. In a subsequent tweet, the Boston Police Department stressed that “there is no threat to the public.” Slate has compiled some of the reports that are circulating:

The Boston Globe reports that the three suspects are college students who “were connected to” Dzokhar Tsarnaev at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he was a student. CBS News, meanwhile, reports that the three — described as Dzokhar’s “friends” — were arrested for “harboring or aiding the Tsarnaev brothers after the bombing.” Two of them will be charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and making false statements, according to CBS’s source(s).

NBC’s Pete Williams, who has perhaps the strongest track record of solid scoops from Boston, reports that the suspects are Dzokhar’s roommates and have been under FBI surveillance for more than a week.

UPDATED Tuesday, April 23, 11:42 a.m. EDT: Nineteen-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in last week’s attacks in Boston, who has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property, made his first court appearance on Monday from his hospital bed. According to a transcript available at the Washington Post, the only word he uttered was “no.”

From the Washington Post:

The three defense lawyers, along with two federal prosecutors, joined Tsarnaev for the court session at his hospital bed, where the suspect is recuperating from gunshot wounds to the head, neck, legs and hands, according to a transcript provided by the court.

Federal Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler advised Tsarnaev of his rights and the charges against him, the transcript said.

“How are you feeling?” a doctor, identified as Dr. Odom, asked. “Are you able to answer some questions?” Tsarnaev “nods affirmatively,’” said the transcript, which added that the only word he spoke during the hearing was “no” when asked whether he could afford a lawyer. Fick said he would reserve questions about bail and other matters, according to the transcript. The judge then ended the session, saying she found the defendant “alert, mentally competent and lucid.”