The Tsarnaev brothers, whom law enforcement officials identify as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, have brought shame upon their family and the entire Chechen ethnicity, their uncle said April 19.
“I respect this country, I love this country,” an emotionally distraught Ruslan Tsarni told reporters outside the home in Montgomery Village where he lives, and he urged his nephew, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, to turn himself in and ask for forgiveness. Just three days later, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found hiding in the hull of a boat parked in the driveway of a home in Watertown, Mass.
On April 15, a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured more than 170. In the morning of April 19, police announced that one suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, had been killed in a gunfight with police. The suburb of Watertown, Mass., as well as Boston itself, was locked down as a manhunt for the second suspect, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, continued.
Tsarni spoke to reporters after the police, who had been in the home at 5 Mastenbrook Court for a few hours, left. “We are assisting the FBI in their investigation,” said Rebecca Innocenti, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Police Department. She said details of why the police were at Tsarni’s house could not be released.
Tsarni made it clear his sympathies lay with the victims of the bombing and not his nephews. He said the point of speaking out was to “deliver our condolences and share our grief with the real victims here. Those who were murdered, who were injured.”
During his press conference, Tsarni said he was alerted to his nephews’ involvement a little after 7 a.m., April 19 when a reporter called him and asked him to identify them from the grainy pictures circulating on the Internet. “I could not believe children of my brother could be associated with that,” Tsarni told reporters. Tsarni said he has not seen his nephews since December of 2005 and said his family “had nothing to do with that family.”
He rejected the idea that the attacks were part of a larger political view, calling his nephews “losers” who couldn’t adjust to America and “hating everyone who did.”
Tsarni identified himself as a Muslim and ethnic Chechen and called any attempt by his nephews to claim violence on either Islam or Chechnya’s behalf “a fraud” and “a fake.” Neither of his two nephews were born in Chechnya, Tsarni said — the eldest was born in Kyrgyzstan, a former state in the Soviet Union, and the youngest in Dagestan, a region of Russia. Both have majority Muslim populations.
Tsarni’s entire Montgomery Village neighborhood was blocked off by police, who only allowed in local residents and the press. Dozens of reporters, photographers and videographers gathered at the edge of Mastenbrook Court, a cul-de-sac, and waited behind yellow police tape while a helicopter hovered over head.
“They are the nicest people I ever met. We know the whole family, ” said Debra Weston, who lives down the block, and whose 9-year-old daughter is best friends with Tsarni’s daughter. “I’m having a hard time with it.”
“The most important thing that we can do at this time is to keep those killed, injured and their families, the police officials putting their lives on the line to protect the community, in our thoughts and prayers,” said Bob Hydorn, president of Montgomery Village Foundation, “as well the family of the suspects, who are as shocked at the happenings as we all are.”
On April 19, Dr. Anwar Masood, president of the Montgomery County Muslim Council released this statement:
“Montgomery County Muslim Council (MCMC) condemns the tragic incident in Boston on Monday April 15, 2013 with the strongest possible terms. This inhumane act of killing and injuring innocent people is unacceptable. As people of conscience, we stand with the city of Boston in this great time of need. We also stand shoulder to shoulder and support Law Enforcement’s effort in apprehending all responsible parties.
“For more than a decade, MCMC has worked to engage resident Muslim Community in Montgomery County to participate in all civic activities for the betterment of the larger community. We’ve come to love and raise our children in this peaceful environment and will continue our work.”