FBI: Suspect seen dropping backpack, walking away

Explosion at the 117th Boston Marathon, Boston, 15 Apr 2013.
Explosion at the 117th Boston Marathon, Boston, 15 Apr 2013.
Rex Features via AP Images

Suspected Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, placed an explosive near the marathon finish line before calmly walking away, according to details in a FBI criminal complaint filed Monday.

Tsarnaev faces a potential death sentence for allegedly killing three people and wounding hundreds more last Monday. According to the complaint, which refers to Tsarnaev as “Bomber Two”:

Approximately 30 seconds before the first explosion, he [Dzhokhar Tsarnaev] lifts his phone to his ear as if he is speaking on his cell phone, and keeps it there for approximately 18 seconds. A few seconds after he finishes the call, the large crowd of people around him can be seen reacting to the first explosion. Virtually every head turns to the east (towards the finish line) and stares in that direction in apparent bewilderment and alarm. Bomber Two, virtually alone among the individuals in front of the restaurant, appears calm. He glances to the east and then calmly but rapidly begins moving to the west, away from the direction of the finish line. He walks away without his knapsack, having left it on the ground where he had been standing. Approximately 10 seconds later, an explosion occurs in the location where Bomber Two had placed his knapsack.

The footage also shows Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, walking towards the site of the first explosion with a backpack on hand. The older Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police shortly after the FBI publicized images of the two men in a national press conference.

Events leading up to the fatal shootout, which left a Watertown police officer critically injured, included the shooting death of an MIT police officer and the carjacking of a Mercedes SUV.

The unidentified carjacking victim told the FBI that one of the men tapped on his window, then reached through a crack to open the driver’s side door from the inside. After that, the man pointed a gun at the driver, shouting “Did you hear about the Boston explosion? I did that.”

“I am serious,” the man said to the victim as he took out the gun’s magazine to show the bullets inside, according to the FBI.

From there, the gunman forced the victim to drive and pick up a second man, with whom he spoke with in a foreign language. At the meeting place, the two men put something in the car trunk. Once on the road, the victim said the gunman asked him for money, so he handed over $45. The second man then asked for the victim’s ATM card and pin number.

The victim made his escape and called police after the two men drove to a convenience store.

Police caught up with the Tsarnaevs using the victim’s cell phone as a tracking device. While in pursuit, the brothers fired shots at the officers and threw at least two homemade bombs from the speeding car, according to the complaint.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escaped in the stolen SUV from the firefight that left his brother dead, and then abandoned the car and fled on foot. Law enforcement officials later found a “low-grade explosive device” inside the abandoned car along with two unexploded IEDs and debris from several exploded bombs at the scene of the shootout.

Following a manhunt that forced Boston to lock down, authorities captured Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding in a Watertown resident’s boat. The suspect and police exchanged gunfire before Tsarnaev was arrested. He had what appeared to be gunshot wounds in his head, neck, legs, and hand. Inside his pockets police found credit cards and his UMASS Dartmouth ID.

Tsarnaev’s next hearing will be held May 30.