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Maryland uncles say distance marks relationships in family of Boston bombing suspects


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Capital News Service photo. Montgomery County resident Ruslan Tsarni speaks Friday to reporters outside his home. He urged his nephew Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to turn himself in and to apologize to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Capital News Service photo. Montgomery County resident Ruslan Tsarni speaks Friday to reporters outside his home. He urged his nephew Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to turn himself in and to apologize to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Published on: Monday, April 22, 2013

By Capital News Service

GAITHERSBURG — Alvi Tsarni, one of two Maryland uncles of the brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombing said Friday he had nothing to say to his nephew, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was being hunted by police in Boston.

“They will kill him,” he said of the police. “We know it. ... You don’t have to worry about it. What’s done is done. … He’s already dead.”

Alvi Tsarni joined his brother, Ruslan Tsarni, also of Gaithersburg, in distancing himself from the two brothers at the center of the investigation into the bombing at the Boston Marathon on Monday: Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who was killed in a battle with police.

The bombing suspects have ties to Maryland, with a handful of relatives living and studying in the Greater Washington area.

Alvi Tsarni said he last talked to his nephews three years ago and hasn’t seen them since the oldest was 15 or 16.

A dispute between the families caused the uncle to become estranged from his nephews and their parents.

“We’re a separated family because they’re not listening. They argue with us,” Alvi Tsarni said, referring to his Boston nephews. “There was some problems (between the families).”

He apologized for his English and could not communicate what the rift in the family was about, but he did say he told his brother, Ruslan Tsarni, to stop speaking to the family.

Despite the estranged relationship, Alvi Tsarni still does not believe that his nephews were responsible for the bombing.

“I am very sorry for what happened. I don’t believe it now, even now, that they did this,” Alvi Tsarni said.

When he gets evidence, “then I will know that they did it,” he said.

But his brother, Ruslan Tsarni, seemed more certain. In an interview at his home earlier Friday, he urged Dzhokar Tsarnaev to turn himself in to authorities and ask for forgiveness for his actions.

“If you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness from the victims, from the injured and from those who lived. Ask forgiveness from these people,” he said.

Ruslan Tsarni confirmed their identity and said they moved to the U.S. about 10 years ago. He said his nephews had shamed the family name and Chechnya, where the family has roots.

“We’re Muslims, we’re ethnic Chechens,” Ruslan Tsarni said.

“Somebody radicalized them, but it’s not my brother, who just moved back to Russia, who spent his life bringing bread to their table, fixing cars,” he said. “I’ve not been in touch with my brother.”

Ruslan Tsarni also said he has not seen his nephews since December 2005.  But he said he had never heard the two associated with any violence.

“I teach my children, and that is what I feel myself. … I respect this country and I love this country. This country which gives a chance to everybody else to be treated as a human being and to be a human being ... that’s what I feel about this country,” he said.

“Of course, we’re ashamed. They’re children of my brother, who had little influence on them, as much as I know,” he said.

Ruslan Tsarni said any allegation that the attacks were bred out of Muslim hatred for the U.S. is “a fraud.”

He said the only motivation behind the attacks he could imagine was that his nephews were “losers, not being able to settle themselves, thereby hating anyone who did.”

He found out when reporters called him Friday morning and his wife showed him photos of the nephews online.

He said the nephews never lived in the Gaithersburg house.

Ruslan Tsarni later apologized to neighbors for the disruption to the neighborhood.

In Boston Friday, the city and surrounding communities were on lockdown after a night that left a police officer and one of the suspects dead.

The second suspect was still on the loose and presumed armed and dangerous.

After releasing photographs and video last Thursday of two persons of interest in the bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, where three were killed and the number of injured approached 200, police said the two suspects are believed to have robbed a convenience store, killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer, stolen an SUV and taken a hostage before leading authorities on a wild chase through the streets of Cambridge.

At approximately 10:20 p.m. last Thursday night, the two brothers reportedly robbed a 7-Eleven convenience store, located near the MIT campus in Cambridge, according to Associated Press reports.

About 10 minutes later, an MIT campus police officer — identified as 26-year-old Sean Collier — was found in his vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to the Associated Press.

The chase continued through the night, with a carjacking, hostage taking, explosions and shootouts. A transit officer was seriously injured during the events, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev was critically injured and later pronounced dead.

Bostonians awoke Friday to a city locked down — mass transit halted, stores and businesses closed and residents in the city and close in suburbs urged to stay in their homes.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev continued to elude police until Watertown, Mass., resident David Henneberry noticed the tarp covering his boat, parked in his backyard on Franklin Street, was flapping in the wind. Henneberry then noticed blood and climbed a step ladder to check under the tarp, when he noticed a pool of blood and a person crumpled into a ball inside his boat.

Henneberry notified authorities, who swiftly escorted Henneberry and his wife into a neighbor’s home. Gunfire erupted and police set up a perimeter around the boat. Law enforcement apprehended Dzhokhar Tsarnaev later that night. He was taken to Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital and was in critical condition.

On Monday, CBS News reported Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is awake and answering questions from authorities. He was injured in the leg and neck. As of Monday morning, He had not yet been charged with a crime.

This story was reported by Allen Etzler, Lucas High, Angela Wong, Ethan Rosenberg and Sean Henderson. Capital News Service reporters Kayla Faria, Julia Maldonado, Spencer Israel, Amber Larkins, Eric Morrow, Krystal Nancoo-Russell, Jonathan Elbaz, Anamika Roy and Lauren Kirkwood contributed to this report.

UPDATE (1:55 p.m. Monday, April 22): Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of malicious destruction of property using an explosive device resulting in death, reported USA Today. He could face the dealth penalty, the maximum sentence for the charges.

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