New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told the FBI that he and his brother, Tamerlan, intended to drive to New York to set off more bombs.
The bombing suspects “intended to drive to New York and detonate additional explosives in Times Square,” Bloomberg said. Bloomberg said city officials had been notified by the FBI Wednesday night about the statements by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is in the hospital recovering from bullet wounds after his capture Friday by police.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said Tsarnaev had initially told investigators that he and his brother had decided to go to New York to “party.” But that story changed, he said, in a subsequent interrogation.
Kelly said Tsarnaev told investigators that the the brothers had “decided spontaneously” on Times Square as a target, while they were driving around in a carjacked Mercedes last Thursday night.
The Globe has reported that a witness told authorities that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had said that night, “We just killed a cop. We blew up the Marathon. And now we’re going to New York. Don’t [expletive] with us.”
Three people were killed and 264 people were injured by the two bombs that struck near the Marathon finish line on April 15. Authorities say the Tsarnaevs carjacked the Mercedes three days later, last Thursday night. Early Friday, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed after a shootout with police in Watertown. On Friday evening, after a massive manhunt, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was found hiding in a boat parked in a Watertown backyard.
Kelly said the brothers had six bombs in their possession: one pressure cooker bomb like those used to attack the Marathon and five pipe bombs. But Kelly said the plan “fell apart” when the brothers realized they were low on gas and ordered the carjack victim to stop at a gas station, where the victim was able to escape.
The first interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was conducted Saturday evening into Sunday morning; the second was conducted Sunday evening into Monday morning, Kelly said. He said the FBI had told New York authorities that Tsarnaev was “more lucid” during the second interrogation.
Bloomberg said New York officials had “no idea” where the brothers were thinking of going in the car before they spontaneously decided to go to New York.
Kelly said authorities knew that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was photographed in Times Square with friends on or before April 18, 2012, and then again in November 2012.
He said he didn’t know if those visits were related to the brothers’ decision to come to New York. Kelly said there was no evidence to indicate that New York was currently a terror target.
Bloomberg said Times Square is watched over by a network of surveillance cameras, and if one or both brothers had dropped a backpack or package in that area and then walked away, their actions would have been spotted and law enforcement would have been alerted. But the mayor added bluntly that no system can prevent every act of terrorism.
“We’re just thankful that we didn’t have to find out that answer,” he said.
“Whenever we get information, we take it seriously,” Bloomberg said. He also vowed, “We are going to do whatever we can to keep everybody safe in this city.”
“We have spared no expense and we have never let our guard down,” he said.