Thousands of police officers, students and faculty from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other officials were joined by Vice-President Joe Biden at a Cambridge memorial service for Sean Collier, the 26-year-old campus police officer whom authorities say was killed by the Boston marathon bombing suspects last week.
Mr Collier, who was laid to rest earlier in the week, was killed only hours after the Federal Bureau of Investigation released images and a video of the suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar, who are said to have fatally shot the officer late on Thursday evening.
Tamerlan was killed in a police shootout soon afterwards, early on Friday morning. Dzhokhar, who was captured badly injured on Friday night following a massive manhunt, remains in his hospital – the FBI said his condition had improved from “serious” to “fair” – and has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction. He faces a possible death sentence.
Authorities say the brothers’ used home-made pressure-cooker bombs to target the marathon early last week, in an attack that left three dead and injured nearly 300.
Security was tight as the crowd filed into the Briggs Field on the MIT campus in Cambridge to remember Officer Collier. Calling the suspects “two twisted, perverted, cowardly, knock-off jihadis,” Vice-President Biden said that the terrorists hated the US for its “open society, our system of justice that guarantees freedom, and the access of every American to opportunity... It infuriates them.”
The memorial was held as Boston’s Boylston Street reopened to the public for the first time since the bombings. The investigation into the attack, meanwhile, continued. A team of American investigators travelled to the Russian province of Dagestan earlier this week to speak to the parents of the Tsarnaev brothers. An official told the Associated Press that the US team was working with the Russian security services. The suspects’ mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, was said to have spent most of Wednesday inside a Russian security services building in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, after first going in for questioning on Tuesday. The parents were planning to travel to the US today, the father, Anzor Tsarnaev, was quoted as telling the Russian state news agency.
As the investigation progressed, questions were being asked about what law enforcement agencies knew about Tamerlan, the elder brother, who was on the FBI’s radar in the years before the attack. A foreign government, widely believed to be Russia’s, had asked the agency for information about the 26-year-old early in 2011.
Elder Tsarnaev boy turned by Muslim convert
In the years before the Boston Marathon bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev fell under the influence of a Muslim convert who steered him towards a strict strain of Islam, his uncle has claimed.
Tamerlan gave up boxing and stopped studying music after meeting the man named “Misha”, said Ruslan Tsarni, pictured. Under this man’s tutelage Tamerlan opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. “Somehow, he just took his brain,” said Tsarni, who has also said his family was estranged from the Tsarnaev brothers for years.
Efforts to identify and interview “Misha” have failed so far.