BOSTON — A federal grand jury in Boston issued a 30-count indictment Thursday against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect, charging him with using a weapon of mass destruction that killed three people and injured more than 260.
The grand jury also charged him in the killing of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) police officer, from whom he and his brother, Tamerlan, 26, tried to steal a firearm, authorities said, before they led police officers on a wild night of terror and a shootout that shut down the city of Boston and its suburbs for a day.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, faces life in prison or the death penalty on 17 of the federal charges and is scheduled to be arraigned July 10. His brother was killed by injuries sustained in the shootout with police and when Dzhokhar drove over him in a car, the indictment said.
In addition to the federal indictment, Tsarnaev was indicted by a Middlesex County grand jury on more than a dozen criminal charges, including murder for the shooting death of Sean Collier, the MIT police officer.
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Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. attorney who outlined the charges for the news media, said she had met with relatives of the victims and with those who were wounded. “Their strength is extraordinary, and we will do everything that we can to pursue justice not only on their behalf but on behalf of all of us,’’ she said.
The federal indictment
included the words that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had scrawled on the inside of a dry-docked boat where he was hiding, giving hints about his motives. Among the phrases he wrote were: “The U.S. government is killing our innocent civilians”; “I can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished”; “We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all”; and “Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.”
Tsarnaev also wrote that he did not “like killing innocent people,” because “it is forbidden in Islam.” But he suggested that because of what had been done to Muslims, such violence “is allowed.”
Ortiz declined to elaborate on the brothers’ motives.
The federal indictment said the brothers had built the two explosive devices that they detonated at the marathon using pressure cookers, explosive powder, shrapnel, adhesives and other items “designed to shred skin, shatter bone, and cause extreme pain and suffering, as well as death.”
It also said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had contributed to his brother’s death. After the two tried to “shoot, bomb and kill” the officers trying to apprehend them, it said, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was tackled by three police officers.
Then, the indictment said, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, driving an SUV that they had carjacked, drove directly at three police officers who were trying to drag Tamerlan to safety. Dzhokhar just missed one officer but ran over Tamerlan, “seriously injuring him and contributing to his death.”
After Tsarnaev drove over his brother, he struck a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer as he sped away, seriously injuring him. Tsarnaev then abandoned the vehicle, smashed both of his cellphones and hid in the boat.