Just before he was captured last month, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev scrawled a note inside the boat where he was hiding that seemed to take responsibility for his role in the tragedy, according to two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the note.
After police forced him out of a Watertown resident’s boat, they found the message in which he praised Allah and said he would be joining his dead brother, Tamerlan, soon, according to one of the officials.
“They found a note that took responsibility,” the official said, but did not provide more details.
Still, the official said, the note could help the prosecution prove the suspect’s alleged role in the bombing.
Both officials asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.
CBS News first reported the note, citing anonymous sources who said Tsarnaev called the Boston victims “collateral damage” in the same way Muslims have been in the American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims,” Tsarnaev wrote.
The Tsarnaev brothers allegedly planted the bombs that killed three people and injured more than 260 others at the Boston Marathon finish line on the afternoon of April 15. The brothers also allegedly killed MIT Police Officer Sean Collier.
The piece of the boat’s interior Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrote on would likely be cut from the hull and presented in court as evidence if he goes to trial, The New York Times reports today.
Tsarnaev, 19, is facing federal charges that could bring him the death penalty. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed after a shootout with police in Watertown several days after the bombings. Authorities say he was also run over by his younger brother who was making a desperate bid to escape police.
Dzokhar Tsarnaev was captured later the same day near the shootout scene, hiding in a boat parked in the backyard of a home.
The bombings shook the nation and raised questions about why the brothers turned to terrorism, whether they had help, and whether law enforcement and security officials could have prevented the attacks.
A woman declined to answer questions after answering the door at the home on Franklin Street in Watertown where Tsarnaev was captured in the boat.
Marlene Mangabat, 31, heard about the manifesto scrawled in the boat for the first time as she walked past with her 3-year-old niece this morning.
“I kind of figured that was how they were feeling, but … the people are collateral damage?” she said. “I am surprised. I knew it was some type of hate.”
Mangabat said her home was hit by bullets during the shootout at the boat. She recalled huddling with her family, including her niece and infant nephew, first on the kitchen floor and then in the basement, before being evacuated.
The idea that as shots rang out around her, Tsarnaev was claiming responsibility for the bombing was unsettling, she said.
“While I’m looking out there, he was in there, writing this message,” she said.