‘‘I'm in complete shock,’’ said Rose Schutzberg, 19, who graduated high school with Dzhokhar and now attends Barnard College in New York. ‘‘He was a very studious person. He was really popular. He wrestled. People loved him.’’
In fact, Schutzberg said, she had ‘‘a little crush’’ on him in high school. ‘‘He’s a great guy,’’ she said. ‘‘He’s smart, funny. He’s definitely a really sweet person, very kind hearted, kind soul.’’
Dzhokhar was on the school’s wrestling team. And in May 2011, his senior year, he was awarded a $2,500 scholarship from the city to pursue higher education, according to a news release at the time. That scholarship was celebrated with a reception at city hall.
The New Bedford Standard-Times reported that Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, who teaches Chechen history at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, said he had tutored Dzhokhar in the subject when he was in high school.
‘‘He was learning his Chechen identity, identifying with the diaspora and identifying with his homeland,’’ Williams said, adding that Dzhokhar ‘‘wanted to learn more about Chechnya, who the fighters were, who the commanders were.’’
Dzhokhar went on to attend UMass-Dartmouth, according to university officials. He lived on the third floor of the Pine Dale dormitory. Harry Danso, who lives on the same floor, told the AP he saw him in a dorm hallway this week.
‘‘He was regular, he was calm,’’ said Danso.
The school would not say what he was studying. The father of the suspects, Anzor Tsarnaev, told the AP his younger son was ‘‘a second-year medical student,’’ though he graduated high school in 2011.
‘‘My son is a true angel ...,’’ he said by telephone from the Russian city of Makhachkala. ‘‘He is such an intelligent boy. We expected him to come on holidays here.’’
Still, The New York Times reported that a college transcript revealed that he was failing many of his college classes. In two semesters in 2012 and 2013, he got seven failing grades, including F’s in Principles of Modern Chemistry, Intro American Politics, and Chemistry and the Environment.
Dzhokhar’s page on the Russian social networking site Vkontakte says that before moving to the United States, he attended School No. 1 in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, and he describes himself as speaking Chechen as well as English and Russian. His world view is described as ‘‘Islam’’ and he says his personal goal is ‘‘career and money.’’
Deana Beaulieu, 20, lives two blocks away from the suspects’ home on Norfolk Street, went to high school with Dzhokhar and was friendly with his sister.
Beaulieu says she doesn’t recall Dzhokhar expressing any political views. ‘‘I thought he was going to branch off to college, and now this is what he’s done. ... I don’t understand what the hell happened, what set him off like this.’’
Florida Addy, 19, of Lynn, Mass., said she lived in the same college dorm with Dzhokhar this year and was on the same floor last year. She called him ‘‘drug’’ (pronounced droog), the Russian word for friend, a word he taught her.
Addy said she saw Dzhokhar last week, when she bummed a cigarette from him. They would occasionally hang out in his room or at the New Bedford apartment of Russian students he knew. He generally wore a hoodie or a white t-shirt and sweatpants, and spent a lot of his time with other kids from Russia.
She described him as down to earth and friendly, even a little mysterious, but in a charming way. She had just learned that he had a girlfriend, although she did not attend the university.
‘‘He was nice. He was cool. I'm just in shock,’’ she said.
Tim Kelleher, a wrestling coach for a Boston school that competed in 2010 against Dzhokhar’s team, said the young man was a good wrestler, and that he'd never heard him express any political opinions.
‘‘He was a tough, solid kid, just quiet,’’ said Kelleher, now a Boston public school teacher.
Dzhokhar’s uncle, too, was surprised by his suspected involvement in the attack — much more, he said, than by his brother's. ‘‘It’s not a surprise about him,’’ Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in Maryland, said of Tamerlan. ‘‘The younger one, that’s something else.’’ He said the family had placed all its hopes with Dzhokhar, hoping he would be a doctor.
Tamerlan was more defined by sports, namely boxing. USA Boxing spokeswoman Julie Goldsticker said Tamerlan registered with the group as an amateur boxer from 2003 to 2004, and again from 2008 to 2010. He competed as a heavyweight in the National Golden Gloves competition in Salt Lake City on May 4, 2009, losing his only bout.Continued...