BOSTON — A Chechen immigrant living in Florida was fatally shot early Wednesday by investigators who were questioning him about his ties to one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. The FBI says the man turned violent during a meeting with a Boston FBI agent and two Massachusetts state troopers.
WBUR’s Deborah Becker spoke with WBUR’s Bob Oakes about the incident.
Bob Oakes: What do we know about why this man was being questioned in connection with the marathon bombings?
Deborah Beckher: Ibragim Todashev apparently knew the late suspected marathon bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. They were both Chechen immigrants, they both were mixed martial arts fighters and they appear to have trained at the same gym together. Todashev’s neighbors in Allston say FBI agents went to his former apartment there looking for Todashev shortly after the bombing. His friends in Florida say he was repeatedly questioned by the FBI before he was fatally shot.
Do authorities believe he was connected to the marathon bombings?
No. They say they do not believe he was involved in the bombings. They say they were questioning him about his relationship with Tsarnaev, which they uncovered through Todashev’s his cell phone records.
What is the FBI saying about the circumstances of the shooting?
Details from the FBI have been scant at best. But what the FBI has said in a statement is that Todashev was shot after becoming violent as he was being questioned by an FBI special agent and two Massachusetts state police detectives.
What about a possible connection to the unsolved triple murder in Waltham two years ago?
Several media are reporting that Todashev implicated himself in that triple murder in Waltham which occurred on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It was a particularly grisly murder — three men were found with their throats slashed and marijuana and thousands of dollars in cash thrown onto their bodies. Questions were first raised about these murders shortly after the marathon bombings because Tamerlan Tsarnaev was said to be close friends with one of the victims. And despite that, Tsarnaev reportedly did not attend the funeral.
The New York Times is reporting that Todashev implicated himself and Tsarnaev in these murders but then lunged at the law enforcement officials right before he was to write a confession. The Boston Globe is quoting anonymous sources as saying that law enforcement officials are looking into whether the gun Tamerlan Tsarnaev used to allegedly kill MIT police officer Sean Collier was acquired from one of these three men killed in Waltham. The Middlesex County district attorney’s office said it will not comment on any of these developments. The DA’s office only said that an active investigation continues into the Waltham murders.
How long did Todashev live in Massachusetts?
Todashev came to America from Russia several years ago to study on a J-1 visa, In 2008, he was granted asylum and obtained a green card in February 2013. It appears he lived in both Cambridge and Allston for a time. And we know that he received a Florida drivers license about a year ago.
Was anyone else hurt in the shooting in Orlando?
The FBI agent involved was taken to the hospital with what are described as non-life threatening injuries. An FBI investigation team has been dispatched to Orlando to look in to what happened.
This post was updated with the Morning Edition interview.