Tags: bombing | suspect | umass | campus

Suspect Partied, Used Gym at UMass Campus Days After Bombing

Saturday, 20 Apr 2013 12:19 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev calmly went about his business after Monday's explosion, heading back to his university dorm room and even going to a party Wednesday night.

“He was regular, he was calm,” said Harry Danso, who lived on the same floor with Tsarnaev in the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Pine Dale dormitory. In fact, Danso saw the bombing suspect in a dorm hallway this week, following the bombing attacks, and noticed nothing unusual.

Other classmates at the university, where Tsarnaev was a sophomore, described the 19-year-old as being a “laid back,” well-liked student. Further, they said they had trouble believing that he was the same person who was shown in photographs with his older brother, Tamerlan, on Thursday as the manhunt for the siblings intensified.

Editor's Note: Is Boston Bombing Linked to Al Qeada? Read More at Lignet.com

Sonia Riberio, 19, of Boston, said she was in a philosophy class with Tsarnaev. She said she saw him on campus this week, although he didn't go to class, the Boston Globe reports. She said he was “laid back” and she would never have expected him to be a terror suspect.

University spokesman Robert Lamontagne declined comment about Tsarnaev, beyond confrming he was a registered student. He also wouldn't discuss Tsarnaev's personal information, such as his major, although his father, interviewed in Russia, said his son was studying medicine. The rural campus does have a medical and pre-med program.

Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, went on the run, though, after law enforcement officials and family members identified them through FBI photos released Thursday. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police, while Dzhokhar escaped and was pursued through the day Friday in a chase that kept the nation's viewers glued to their televisions.

But back at UMass Dartmouth, students are having a hard time making the connection between the accusations about their classmate and the young man they knew.

Florida Addy, 19, who lived on the same dormitory floor as Tsarnev, said she called him “drug,” which is the Russian word for friend and pronounced “droog.” She said they hung out together in his dorm room, and that he spent a great amount of time with other students from Russia. She noted he always spoke Russian in his friends' apartment in New Bedford, while he didn't usually speak the language when he was with her.

The Tsarnaev brothers were Chechens who lived in Dagestan, a country neighboring Chechnya in Southern Russia. Both brothers had lived in the United States for several years, but only Dzhokhar had become an American citizen.

Addy said she last saw him last week, when she got a cigarette from him, and said she's “in shock” over the accusations.

Meanwhile, another fellow student said he saw the sophomore at a party with his friends from intramural soccer on Wednesday night, Fox News reports, and didn't notice anything different about him.

Tsarnaev spent the night in his Pine Hall dorm room on Wednesday and swiped his student ID card to work out at the school's gym, CBS News reports.

While Tsarnaev apparently got on well with his fellow students, he was having difficulty with his grades. He had seven failed grades over two semesters in 2012 and 2013, including to his transcripts, even though he'd done well academically in high school, according to the New York Times.

Meanwhile, the campus was locked down on Friday after school leaders learned Tsarnaev was a suspect, reports the Boston Globe. The school first locked down his dorm, and then the entire campus, and dorm students were evacuated to nearby Dartmouth High School.

Three black helicopters landed at the school's main entrance on Friday, with about two dozen policemen running onto the campus. Several U-Hauls arrived a short time later, and later in the afternoon, State Police cruisers and SUVs with people in military fatigues arrived.

Tsarnaev was captured, injured and bleeding, Friday night in nearby Watertown, where he was hiding under a boat in a resident's back yard.

He remains hospitalized in serious condition for injuries received in Thursday's shootout and Friday's capture.

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