A 27-year-old man reportedly acquainted with Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot and killed by an FBI agent in the wee hours of Wednesday morning in Orlando, Fla.
News reports identify the shooting victim as Ibragim Todashev, but the FBI did not immediately confirm his name. Some reports identify his first name as Ibrahim. The exact circumstances of his death are unclear.
Khusen Taramov, who identified himself to WFTV as Todashev's friend, told the local TV station that Todashev had purchased a ticket "to go back home." CBS News reports Todashev was planning a trip to Chechnya, heightening the interest of authorities.
According to Taramov, FBI agents "were pushing him, saying, 'Stay, don't leave.' They said, 'We want to interview you one last time and talk to you a last time.' And he decided to stay, and today's interview was supposed to be the last time, and they said they were going to leave him alone."
Taramov said his friend didn't know Tsarnaev very well. "Back in Boston, they used to hang out," he told WFTV. "Not hang out, he just knew him. He met them a few times because he was an MMA fighter, [and] the other guy was boxer. They just knew each other that's it."
WESH-TV also interviewed the friend, whose name the station spelled Khusn Taramiv. He told that local station he was questioned alongside Todashev by the FBI for three hours on Tuesday.
"They were talking to us, both of us, right?" he recalled. "And they said they need him for a little more, for a couple more hours, and I left, and they told me they're going to bring him back. They never brought him back."
According to CBS News, Todashev "had been interviewed along with a number of other people in the apartment complex." CBS reporter John Miller said on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday that Todashev attracted added attention because he "was in contact with Tamerlan Tsarnaev. He had been to Boston to visit him, and he was planning a trip to Chechnya."
The New York Times reports that several ethnic Chechens have been interviewed by investigators probing the April 15 Boston bomb blasts that killed three people and maimed many more.
"Repeatedly since April 29, agents have interviewed a Chechen refugee and former rebel fighter, Musa Khadzhimuratov, of Manchester, N.H.," The Times reports. "Tamerlan Tsarnaev used a firing range in Manchester to practice shooting and bought fireworks in New Hampshire to extract the explosive powder used in the marathon bombs."
FBI Special Agent Dave Couvertier, media coordinator for the bureau's Tampa office, released a brief statement on the shooting Wednesday morning. Couvertier told U.S. News that the FBI will release more information later in the day and "will be gathering facts in the meantime."
The FBI statement said: "We are currently responding to a shooting incident involving an FBI special agent. The incident occurred in Orlando, Florida. The agent encountered the suspect while conducting official duties. The suspect is deceased. We do not have any further details at this time."
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died April 19 of wounds suffered during a gun fight with police in Watertown, Mass. Tsarnaev's younger brother and alleged accomplice, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is awaiting trial on federal charges that could bring the death penalty.
Three of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's college friends have also have been charged with crimes relating to the bomb attacks. Kazakhstan citizens Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov are charged with conspiring to obstruct justice for throwing away their friend's backpack, which contained emptied fireworks casing, as he fled police. U.S. citizen Robel Phillipos is charged with lying to investigators about his participation in throwing away the bookbag.
Update (11:30 a.m.):
The FBI released an updated statement Wednesday morning, saying that the shooting happened after a “violent confrontation was initiated by the individual.” Todashev was not named in the release.
“The [FBI] agent along with two Massachusetts State Police troopers and other law enforcement personnel were interviewing an individual in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing investigation when a violent confrontation was initiated by the individual,” said the FBI statement. “During the confrontation, the individual was killed and the agent sustained non-life threatening injuries.”
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Updated 5/22/13: This story has been updated to include a statement from the FBI. An earlier version of the article incorrectly said the incident occurred in Tampa.