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Boston suspects spontaneously targeted Times Square, officials say

April 25, 2013|By Richard A. Serrano

WASHINGTON — Top New York officials announced that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, arrested in the Boston Marathon bombing, told federal interrogators that he and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had planned to drive to Manhattan and set off another series of explosions in Times Square.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the Tsarnaev brothers had six remaining improvised explosive devices and, after realizing they had been identified from surveillance images in Boston, spontaneously decided to drive to New York and set off those explosives. The six remaining devices included one pressure cooker bomb, as used in Boston, and five smaller pipe bombs.

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Kelly said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, in written responses to questions, first told interrogators late Friday night or early Saturday that he and his brother had planned go to New York to “party.” He then told them Sunday night or early Monday morning that they actually hoped to set off another series of explosions in New York. Kelly said the suspect told interrogators that he and his brother decided on New York after carjacking a motorist in Boston.

“They decided spontaneously on Times Square as a target,” Kelly said. “They would drive to Times Square that same night, and they discussed that while driving around in the hijacked car.”

But, the police commissioner said, their plan “fell apart when they became low on gas, ordered the driver to stop at a gas station, and he fled and called police. That eventually led to the shootout in Watertown [Mass.].”

Tamerlan was killed in the April 18 shootout, and Dzhokhar was arrested the next evening.

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Kelly also revealed that Dzhokhar was photographed by surveillance cameras in Times Square on April 18, 2012, and again in New York in November. But, he added, “we don’t know if those trips were related in any way to the brothers targeting Times Square.”

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Richard.serrano@latimes.com

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