By KYLE HIGHTOWER, Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A Chechen immigrant shot to death in central Florida after an altercation with an FBI agent had several ties to that of one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects who authorities were questioning him about at the time.
Ibragim Todashev's Chechen roots and mixed martial arts background mirror that of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston bombing suspected killed in a shootout with police last month. The two also had lived in the Boston area.
Todashev, a 27-year-old mixed martial arts fighter, was fatally shot by authorities early Wednesday at his Orlando home during a meeting with the agent and two Massachusetts state troopers, authorities said. The agent was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Three law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Todashev had lunged at the FBI agent with a knife. However, two of those officials said later in the day it was no longer clear what had happened. The third official had not received any new information.
The FBI gave no details on why it was interested in Todashev except to say that he was being questioned as part of the Boston investigation. However, two officials briefed on the investigation said he had implicated himself as having been involved in a 2011 triple-slaying in a Boston suburb that authorities believe may have been connected to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the 26-year-old Boston bombing suspect killed in a shootout with police days after the April 15 terrorist attack.
Public records show that Todashev resided in nearby Watertown, Mass., last year.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev's younger brother, Dzhokhar, survived the shootout with police and is now charged with carrying out the attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260 in downtown Boston. He is also charged in the slaying of an MIT police officer days later.
Several of Todashev's former roommates who were questioned by the FBI said he knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an aspiring boxer, from mixed martial arts fighting in Boston and that the FBI was asking about him.
"He's a regular guy, nothing wrong," Saeed Dunkaev said of Todashev.
Todashev had lived on and off with other Chechens in the Orlando suburb of Kissimmee and had moved to Orlando more recently, friends said.
Investigators have been trying to establish the scope of the plot. In addition, authorities in Massachusetts said they would investigate whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev had any connection to the unsolved 2011 deaths in the Boston suburb of Waltham, where three men were found in an apartment, their throats slit and marijuana sprinkled over their bodies. One of the victims was a boxer and a friend of Tsarnaev's.
Two officials who were briefed on the investigation said Todashev made statements, while he was being interviewed by the FBI and Massachusetts state police, implicating himself as having been involved in the 2011 Waltham slayings. Neither of the officials, one of whom had earlier told The Associated Press there was no new information on Todashev lunging at the agent, knew whether Todashev had also implicated Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the killings. The two people, a federal law enforcement official and a Massachusetts state official, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details of the investigation.
Neither official was sure of the extent of Todashev's supposed involvement.
Police records suggest Todashev had a hot temper, with arrests in a road rage incident and, more recently, in a fight over a parking space.
Muslin Chapkhanov, another former roommate, said Todashev knew the older Tsarnaev brother. Todashev "was living in Boston and I think he trained with him," Chapkhanov said.
Former roommate Khusen Taramov said the FBI was asking questions about a conversation Todashev had with the older bombing suspect a month before the Boston Marathon attack.