Boston suspect awake, responds to authorities

US media reports, hospitalized suspect of Boston bombings communicates with authorities after days under sedation.

April 22, 2013 10:00
2 minute read.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, suspect in Boston bombing.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev 370. (photo credit: VK profile)


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BOSTON - The ethnic Chechen college student accused with his deceased older brother of the Boston Marathon bombing faced federal charges as early as Monday as he lay hospitalized under armed guard, severely wounded and unable to speak.

ABC and NBC news networks reported late on Sunday that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was awake and responding in writing to questions put to him by authorities after two days under sedation in Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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Other US news sources, including CNN, said Tsarnaev, who was shot in the throat and the leg prior to his arrest, was still sedated in the intensive care unit with a breathing tube down his throat.

Authorities told Reuters that the sedation, and a tongue injury from the throat wound itself, had left him incapable of speech and precluded questioning by investigators.

Tsarnaev's apprehension on Friday night ended a manhunt that virtually shut down greater Boston for some 20 hours. His older brother, fellow bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was pronounced dead after a gunfight with police a day earlier.

Investigators were seeking, among things, to determine whether the two suspects acted alone.

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said he was convinced the Tsarnaev brothers were the two principal perpetrators.

"I am confident that they were the two major actors in the violence that occurred," he told CNN on Sunday.

Davis also said investigators have discovered at least four undetonated devices, one of them similar to the two pressure cooker bombs set off at the Boston Marathon, and that he believed the suspects were planning additional attacks.

Still, much of investigators' attention has focused on a trip to Russia last year by Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and whether Chechen separatists or Islamist extremists there may have influenced or assisted in the bombings.

The two brothers, who are of ethnic Chechen heritage, emigrated to the United States a decade ago from Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim region in Russia's North Caucasus mountains.

They are accused of planting and setting off two homemade bombs near the crowded finish line of the Boston Marathon last Monday, killing three people and injuring more than 170 others.

US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, the federal prosecutor for the Boston area, was preparing criminal charges on Sunday against the younger Tsarnaev, a naturalized US citizen, according to Davis. It was not clear when charges would be filed, but it could as early as Monday.

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