A high school classmate of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the second suspect in the Boston bombing, says he was “a nice guy” who “never seemed out of the ordinary.”
“This is an incredible shock to everyone that knew him,” 20-year-old Sierra Schwartz, who attended Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, told NBC’s TODAY Show. “In high school, he was very normal. He had lots of friends.”
Dzhokhar’s brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan, the other suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, was pronounced dead early Friday morning after a shootout with police. Dzhokhar is still at large while swat teams are scouring nearby Watertown, Mass.
Schwartz, who says Dzhokhar went by “Jahar” in high school, said that she recognized him from Thursday’s blurry FBI photos, but couldn’t believe it could be her classmate.
Robin Young, whose nephew is a friend of the suspect, called Dzhokhar a “beautiful young man” and heralded his athletic prowess. Dzhokhar was named student athlete of the month for wrestling in February 2011, per Cambridge Rindge & Latin School’s website. Young is host of public radio show Here & Now.
Young spoke of the diversity in the Cambridge high school: “Nobody would’ve ever thought twice about a kid whose family came from Chechnya.” Dzhokhar was born in Kyrgyzstan and arrived with his family who claimed asylum in the United States in either 2002 or 2003, authorities tell NBC News.
“He was just loved. A light, airy, beautiful, curly-haired kid,” Young said of Dzhokhar. “We’re going through prom pictures…no one can believe that it’s this young man.”
Below is a photo of Young’s nephew on the right, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the left.
My beloved nephew on right, djohar tsarnaev on left, happy cambridge Rindge and Latin grads.heartbreaking twitter.com/hereandnowrobi…
— Robin Young (@hereandnowrobin) April 19, 2013