Younger Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has a reputation that he partied. In fact, the 19-year-old suspect acted like any other college sophomore and was on the campus of University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth every day.
Tsarnaev attended classes and dorm parties and went to the gym while the rest of Boston came to a tense standstill.
A student at the school told The Boston Globe that she saw Tsarnaev at a party Wednesday night that was attended by some of his friends from intramural soccer.
“He was just relaxed,” she said, asking the paper not to print her name.
Another UMass Dartmouth student said he talked about the bombing with Tsarnaev for several minutes Tuesday while they were working out at the gym. Tsarnaev seemed normal, perhaps a little tired, Zach Bettencourt told CNN.
Bettencourt said he told Tsarnaev something about the bombing, to the effect of, “You hear about this kind of thing happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not here.”
“He was like, ‘Yeah, tragedies happen like this all the time and it’s sad,’ ” Bettencourt said, adding he had no inkling about anything suspicious with Tsarnaev, whom he described as a nice guy.
At the dorm where Tsarnaev lived, students joked Thursday as they viewed the FBI photos on television.
“We made a joke like, that could be Dzhokar,” said Pamala Rolon. “But then we thought it just couldn’t be him. Dzhokar? Never.”
A tense scene began to unfold Thursday night — complete with wailing sirens, flashes of blue and red lights, a hail of bullets and explosions from homemade bombs. By early Friday morning, Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, 26, was dead. Dzhokar Tsarnaev was bleeding as he stole away into the night.
On campus nobody was joking. The school posted a message on its website: “UMass Dartmouth has learned that a person being sought in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing has been identified as a student registered at UMass Dartmouth. The campus is closed. Individuals on campus should shelter in place unless instructed otherwise.”
The manhunt for Dzhokar Tsarnaev lasted all day Friday and left Boston streets deserted as police asked everyone to stay indoors. Then after the request was lifted, authorities got a tip: A Watertown man told police someone was hiding in his boat in the backyard, bleeding. It was their suspect, Watertown police Chief Edward Deveau said.
Officers spotted Tsarnaev poking through the tarp covering the boat, and a shootout erupted, Deveau said. Police used “flash-bangs,” devices meant to stun people with a loud noise, and negotiated with Tsarnaev for about half an hour before his capture.