Three college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were taken into custody Wednesday, accused of removing a backpack containing fireworks from Tsarnaev’s dorm room and lying to investigators.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, both of Kazakhstan, are charged with conspiring to obstruct justice. A third man, Robel Phillipos, is charged with making false statements to federal investigators after Tsarnaev was identified as one of the suspects in the April 15 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260.
An FBI affidavit states Tazhayakov, Kadyrbayev and Phillipos all attended the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth together with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. According to the affidavit, the three admitted that they removed Tsarnaev’s backpack from his dorm room on the night of April 18, the day investigators released images of the bombing suspects.
“Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov have admitted that they agreed to get rid of it after concluding from news reports that Tsarnaev was one of the Boston Marathon bombers,” the affidavit states.
Read the full affidavits below:
According to the document, after the bombing suspects’ photos were released Kadyrbayev texted Tsarnaev and told him he looked like one of them. Tsarnaev texted back “lol” and “you better not text me” and “come to my room and take whatever you want” — which Kadyrbayev at the time interpreted as jokes.
Later, Kadyrbayev, Tazahaykaov and Phillipos went to the university campus and to Tsarnaev’s dorm room, where his roommate let them in. The roommate said Tsarnaev had left several hours earlier. According to the affidavit, the three suspects watched a movie in the dorm room, then noticed a backpack with fireworks inside that had been opened and emptied of gunpowder.
“Kadyrbayev knew when he saw the empty fireworks that Tsarnaev was involved in the Marathon bombing,” the affidavit states. “Kadyrbayev decided to remove the backpack from the room in order to help his friend Tsarnaev avoid trouble. He decided to take Tsarnaev’s laptop as well because he did not want Tsarnaev’s roommate to think he was stealing or behaving suspiciously by just taking the backpack.”
When the three returned to the apartment shared by Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov, they watched news reports about the bombing suspects, and “collectively decided to throw the backpack and fireworks into the trash because they did not want Tsarnaev to get into trouble.”
The three suspects were in custody Wednesday pending a 3:30 p.m. federal court hearing in Boston.
According to the Associated Press, Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev have been held in county jail for more than a week on allegations they violated their student visas while attending the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. They appeared through video conference for an immigration hearing in Boston on Wednesday.
The Boston Police Department made the announcement about the new suspects Wednesday morning via Twitter.
“Three additional suspects taken into custody in Marathon bombing case. Details to follow,” the department tweeted. Police also said there was no threat to public safety.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is recovering in a prison hospital from injuries sustained while he was on the run from authorities. He is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill and could receive the death penalty. His older brother, bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed following a gun battle with police.
This post has been updated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.