WASHINGTON — A friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev who was shot and killed by an FBI special agent in Orlando, Fla., early Wednesday was being questioned primarily about a 2-year-old triple homicide in Waltham, Mass., and about whether Tsarnaev played a role in those killings, officials said.
Federal law enforcement sources identified the slain man as Ibragim Todashev, 27. They said he suddenly lunged with a knife and injured the agent in a “violent confrontation” during an interview.
Todashev is a former Mixed Martial Arts fighter like Tsarnaev and was being questioned by the FBI agent, two Massachusetts State Police troopers and other law enforcement officials.
Todashev “primarily” was being asked about the Sept. 11, 2011, triple slaying in Waltham because officials believe he and Tsarnaev may have had a role in cutting the throats of three men and sprinkling marijuana over the bodies, law enforcement sources said.
They also had questions about his relationship with Tsarnaev, and the fact that he had spoken with him shortly before the marathon bombing.
The authorities were interviewing Todashev “when a violent confrontation was initiated by the individual,” the FBI in Boston said in a written statement. “During the confrontation, the individual was killed and the agent sustained non-life-threatening injuries.” The agent’s identity was not immediately released.
Officials added that the authorities’ main interest was in talking to Todashev about the triple homicide, and less so about the Boston bombing.
Meanwhile, the FBI said the shooting is “under review,” and that an FBI team was dispatched from Washington headquarters to Orlando to investigate the matter, said FBI spokesman Dave Couvertier in Orlando.
Tsarnaev was killed in a police shootout four days after the bombing, and his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was later arrested and charged in the blast that killed three and injured 260 others.
In the last month, FBI and other law enforcement officials have spread out pursuing leads into the bombing, interviewing a wide range of people who were associated with the Tsarnaev brothers.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Todashev was arrested May 4 and charged with aggravated battery with great bodily harm in Orange County, Fla., regarding a dispute over a parking spot at a local outlet mall.
Todashev said he fought with the other man “to protect his knee because he had surgery in March,” sheriff's deputies said.
It was unclear how well Todashev may have known the Tsarnaevs, though he, too, was from Chechnya and reportedly had told acquaintances that he was a martial arts fighter like Tamerlan and had spoken to him on the phone shortly before the bombing.
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