News & Politics  
comments_image Comments

9 Burning, Unresolved Questions About the Boston Bombings

There have been conflicting crime scene accounts from police about basic facts.

One week after Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev captured, there are more questions than answers surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing and its violent climax involving a carjacking and two shootouts and the murder of an MIT policeman.

Some of the confusion comes from the police, whose statements have been contradictory or wrong, and were later retracted. Some of the confusion comes from new details that have emerged prompting more questions, such as the FBI’s tracking of the older brother and his mother. And others are media speculation, such as whether Tamerlan killed his teenage brother’s best friend and two others on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, because they were pot dealers and exerting a bad influence on Dzhokhar.

Let’s try to sift through what’s known and unknown, correct and incorrect.

1. The bombing. We know the Tsarnaev brothers were singled out as the top suspects. Yet some bloggers reported that there were nearly identically dressed people who also left black backpacks at the race’s finish line. We don’t know their motives, or if anyone else was involved or knew about their plans. The brothers were apparently poor, so there are lingering questions about how they bought the explosives they used and their getaway car.

2. The MIT killing. It’s not clear why the brothers killed the MIT police officer, though speculation is that they wanted his gun. Reports that they robbed a 7-11 were untrue. The evidence they killed the MIT officer comes from the young Chinese man whose Mercedes SUV they carjacked; he told police and the media that the brothers told him they did.

3. The carjacking. The carjacking victim emerged from seclusion and gave a detailed account to the Boston Globe, saying that he ran for his life at a gas station, not that he was let go because he was a foreigner, as earlier media reports suggested. He said the brothers told him that they were the bombers and that they had killed the MIT officer and might go to New York—prompting city officials to demand more federal anti-terror funding.

4. Bombs yes, guns not so much? The initial police reports said that the pair was heavily armed with guns, including an assault rifle. But that apparently was untrue as photos of the Thursday night confrontation were posted online, showing only one brother was armed with a gun, it's not clear what kind of firearm.   

5. Tamerlan’s death. How the older brother died is another open question. Watertown police said that he ran toward a line of officers (leaving his brother behind in the SUV), while firing a handgun, but he ran out of bullets just yards in front of them. They say he was tackled to be taken alive, but that his brother ran over the body while driving the SUV through the police lines. A gruesome photo of Tamerlan’s dead body shows bullet wounds and gashes. Later reports say that most of the 200 rounds fired in this confrontation were from the police.

6. False information on attempted suicide? Dzhokhar ended up hiding in a boat in a backyard not far from the shoot out. He did not shoot himself in the neck to try to kill himself or fire on police from the boat, as was initially reported by police; he had no firearms in the boat, according to more recent accounts by federal officials. What prompted authorities to open fire o n Dzokhar is still unclear

See more stories tagged with: