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

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."

UPDATED Monday, April 22, 2:03 p.m. EDT: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with using weapons of mass destruction, and the White House has announced that he will be tried in civilian court, reports NBC News.

"He will not be treated as an enemy combatant. We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

"Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commissions. And it is important to remember that since 9/11 we have used the federal court system to convict  and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists."

Tsarnaev, 19, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Chechen origin, made his initial court appearance at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical  Center, where he was listed in serious condition.


UPDATED Monday, April 22, 11:35 a.m. EDT: Following his last statement regarding the capture of the second Boston-bombing suspect on Friday, President Obama has asked for a moment of silence on Monday at 2:50 p.m. EDT to remember victims Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu and Martin Richard, according to USA Today.

UPDATED Friday, April 19, 10:20 p.m. EDT: In remarks reminding the nation that we are "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," President Obama addressed Americans Friday evening after bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custory. In remarks made at the White House, the president lauded law enforcement and spoke about those who were killed or wounded in the Boston Marathon bombings and their aftermath. Of the suspects, he said, "Whatever hateful agenda drove these men to such heinous acts will not and cannot prevail … they failed because as Americans, we refuse to be terrorized." He also said, "that spirit includes remaining true to the diversity that makes this nation strong," and that "it's important that we do this right" by letting the justice system take its course and "not rush to judgment, not about the motivations of these individuals, certainly not about entire groups of people."


Referring to a separate tragedy that was overshadowed in the media by the events in Boston, President Obama said about the many victims of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, "I want them to know that they are not forgotten."

Earlier, Boston Police Chief Ed Davis said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in "serious condition" in the hospital. Reuters reports that he was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital.


UPDATED Friday, April 19, 8:50 p.m. EDT: The Boston Police Department tweeted that marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is "in custody. Officers sweeping the area. Stand by for further info." The suspect was found in a boat parked in the backyard of a residence in Watertown, Mass.

UPDATED Friday, April 19, 7:30 p.m. EDT: After numerous reports of shots fired in Watertown, Mass., CBS News is reporting via Twitter that Boston's Mayor Tom Menino told WBZ that a man, believed to be the remaining suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is "surrounded by police in a boat sitting in a residential backyard."


UPDATED Friday, April 19, 5:54 p.m. EDT: Speaking to ABC News from his home in the Russian city of Makhachkala as Boston police continued to search for his son, the father of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects called on his son, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, to give up peacefully. He said that he believes his sons were "set up."

"Give up. Give up. You have a bright future ahead of you. Come home to Russia," the dad said.

The father warned, however, "If they killed him, then all hell would break loose."

"If they kill my second child, I will know that it is an inside job, a hit job. The police are to blame," the father told ABC News. "Someone, some organization is out to get them."

Anzor Tsarnaev said that his sons were "set up" and that they are "very nice kids" who have no experience with weapons and explosives.


UPDATED Friday, April 19, 1:21 p.m. EDT: According to Buzzfeed, Stefanie Gardner, who says she attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School with 19-year-old suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has confirmed that his Twitter account is @J_tsar. That account's last status update was written Tuesday, a day after the shooting, and reads, "Im a stress free kind of guy."  

One of @J_tsar's  followers, @DanmitGIO, has tweeted commentary about Dzhokhar, whom he refers to as "Jahar." Tweets today include: "When they said he last name on the news..i knew it was jahar….you cant trust anyone man this is sad, prayers for all of boston"; "We went to the gym with this bastard, chilled, went to eat, played video games like what the f—k …  we trusted this a—hole";  and "We legit were boys i cant even look at this dude anymore, chilled all the time f—k this kid i trusted this a—hole." 


UPDATED Friday, April 19, 11:34 a.m. EDT: In an interview with CBS Boston, Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings, said he was "absolutely shocked" and "devastated" over the news that his nephews were allegedly involved in Monday's attack. He also called them "losers" and asked for forgiveness on behalf of the entire family. Watch the interview and get live updates on the latest at the Washington Post.

UPDATED Friday, April 19, 8:44 a.m. EDT: MSNBC is reporting that two people from the suspects' home have been taken into custody but are not under arrest. The manhunt for the second suspect continues and the Boston area remains on high alert, with a shelter-in-place order in effect for the entire city. 


UPDATED Friday, April 19, 8:36 a.m. EDT: Overnight, one of the suspects was killed in a confrontation with police, and the other is the subject of a massive manhunt. The Washington Post reports:

The suspects — introduced to the world via photos and video footage Thursday night — were identified as brothers, law enforcement officials said Friday morning

One security officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was killed after a confrontation with the suspects Thursday night, and a transit officer was critically wounded, police said

The one still at large was identified by law enforcement authorities as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge. The one who was killed was identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev.


UPDATED Thursday, April 18, 5:24 p.m. EDT: In a press conference today, an FBI representative announced the release of images of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, whom the FBI considers "armed and extremely dangerous." The photos are available at Watch video of the suspects at CBS News. The agency has asked for the public's help in identifying them. 

UPDATED Thursday, April 18, 11:05 a.m. EDT: President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and other dignitaries arrived this morning for an interfaith prayer service at a cathedral less than a mile from the finish line of the Boston Marathon at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, NBC News  reports. At the church in Boston's South End neighborhood, about half the seats were reserved for police, other first responders and families of victims.


UPDATED Thursday, April 18, 9:05 a.m. EDT: Authorities pinpoint two suspects: CNN reports that authorities are working to identify two men whom a law-enforcement source says are pictured near the Boston Marathon finish line in images captured before the blast. One of them was reportedly carrying a black backpack. Despite conflicting reports yesterday, the FBI and Boston police have issued formal denials that any suspect is in custody.

UPDATED Wednesday, 2:40 p.m. EDT: There are conflicting reports on whether a suspect has been arrested. From USA Today: "Two law enforcement sources told USA TODAY no arrest had been made. The Associated Press, CNN and Fox Boston said that a suspect had been taken into custody in early afternoon." From NBC News:

Authorities investigating the Boston Marathon bombing said Wednesday they have the face but not the name of someone seen on video leaving a black bag near the scene of the blasts.

The person was seen on a surveillance camera from a Lord & Taylor department store, one official said.

Investigators said they had "solid leads" after viewing hundreds of hours of video. NBC News sources said there had not been an arrest.


UPDATED Wednesday, April 17, 2 p.m. EDT: Authorities have made an arrest in the Boston bombings investigation based on two videos showing images of the suspect, a federal law-enforcement source told CNN.

UPDATED Tuesday, April 16, 9:58 a.m. EDT: Despite earlier reports, there were only two explosive devices found in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings, and there were no unexploded devices, said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick in a press conference this morning. He said there were more than 150 people injured. Three deaths have been previously reported. FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers said, "There are no known additional threats." No one is in custody for the bombings, said authorities. Boston Mayor Tom Menino gave out the number of a 24-hour hotline for those seeking information about loved ones and support: 617-635-4500. A prayer service is planned for tomorrow.


UPDATED Tuesday, April 16, 9:53 a.m. EDT: Authorities have searched an apartment in Revere, Mass., in connection with yesterday's bombings, but "many people" are still being questioned, CNN reports:

Authorities including bomb experts searched an apartment in Revere, Massachusetts, and removed items, after two deadly bombs struck the Boston Marathon. But investigators remained mum about just how the search may be linked to the bombing investigation.

A law enforcement official said the search was not a suggestion that police may have a suspect. At this point there is no suspect and no leading theory on motive, the official said.

The search on the home is connected to a young Saudi citizen who is visiting on a student visa and has been questioned, the official said. So far, the official told CNN, he has not heard of anything being found connecting the person to the bombings.

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said many people were being questioned.

UPDATED 9:45 p.m. EDT: CNN reports that, according to a law-enforcement advisory, investigators warned police to be on the lookout for a "darker-skinned or black male" with a possible foreign accent in connection with the attack. The notice states that a man with that description and a black backpack and sweatshirt was seen trying to get into a restricted area about five minutes before the first explosion.


In addition, a Saudi national with a leg wound was under guard at a Boston hospital in connection with the bombings, but investigators cannot say that he is involved at this time, and he is not in custody. "Many people" are being questioned, according to Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.

UPDATED 9:33 p.m. EDT: The FBI has taken over "a potential terrorist investigation" surrounding Monday's deadly explosions, Richard DesLauriers, FBI special agent in charge, said at a press conference tonight. Officials are now reporting that at least 141 people were injured and three killed.


UPDATED 6:57 p.m. EDT: Police officials have confirmed that one of the victims killed in Monday's Boston Marathon bombing was an 8-year-old. At least two people are reported dead, and as many as 100 were injured.

UPDATED 6:22 p.m. EDT: In remarks to reporters from the White House briefing room, President Obama acknowledged that the investigation into Monday's bombings in Boston was ongoing, but assured Americans that "we will find out who did this, and we will hold them accountable." Also noting that today is the city's Patriot's Day holiday, and paying tribute to the city's "tough" spirit, he said, "Make no mistake. We will get to the bottom of this. We will find out who did this and why they did this." He did not use the words "terror" or "terrorism."


UPDATED 5:30 p.m. EDT: According to a White House official, this afternoon President Obama received briefings from FBI Director Robert Mueller and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on "the active investigation and response to the incident in Boston, including the ongoing coordination with state and local officials." In addition, the president called Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick "to express his concern for those who were injured and to make clear that his administration is ready to provide needed support as they respond to the incident."

UPDATED 4:15 p.m. EDT: Boston police have confirmed that two people have died and 23 were injured, Reuters reports.



One or more explosions appear to have occurred near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, with reports that "dozens of people have been seriously injured."


From the Washington Post:

Two explosions disrupted the Boston Marathon on Monday, causing injuries and scattering crowds near the finish line, witnesses said.

The blasts occurred after the top racers had completed the course, but thousands of others were still running. CNN reported that authorities halted the race.

Video footage showed smoke rising from a sidewalk and people running away …

A CNN producer who was at the race said the first large explosion was followed about 10 seconds later by another blast. He said he saw at least five or six people who appeared to be injured.

Emergency personnel rushed to the area, and the street was quickly sealed off.

The explosions occurred shortly before 3 p.m. Eastern time near the intersection of Boylston and Exeter streets. Local media reports said store fronts were blown out …

The witness said he saw at least four injured people being treated at the scene.

Many of the injured appeared to be spectators who were watching the race.

Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa was the 2013 winner of the men's marathon. Rita Jeptoo of Kenya won the women's race.


Check back for updates on this developing story.

Read more at the Washington Post.