‘Here & Now’: Shocked by violent change of the boy they knew

Here & Now is a “daily news magazine” on public radio produced by WBUR in Boston. It’s name has never been more appropriate than today, as the program reported live from a city in turmoil.

The hunt for the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings has affected the lives of everyone in Boston, including Here & Now host Robin Young. Young’s nephew was a friend and former high school classmate of Dzhokhar Tsarnev, the 19-year-old identified by law enforcement as the subject of the ongoing manhunt. Young, her nephew, a teacher from the high school and other members of the community all expressed shock and bewilderment that the “caring,” friendly boy they knew is now alleged to have committed acts of appalling, senseless violence.

“Something happened,” Young’s nephew said, unable to reconcile the person he knew with the armed and dangerous person now pursued by police and the FBI.

It’s a disturbing, compelling, confusing story told firsthand, with gripping immediacy.

I can’t say it will help you to make sense of any of this, but it helped me better understand the kind of senselessness at the heart of this story.

Check out all the coverage from Here & Now online.

I can only hope that this young suspect hears and heeds the words of his uncle: “Turn yourself in. And ask for forgiveness from the victims, from the injured. … Ask forgiveness from these people.”

I know there are some readers here from the Boston area. Please stay safe. You are in our thoughts and prayers.


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  • Insufficient Data

    There’s a difference between your average murderer and someone whose apparent goal is to kill and hurt as many people as possible.

    Also, the information on the case was changing *hourly*. It’s very easy for to say “oh, I read an article on CNN, he’s just a dumb kid with no support system” but that fact *was not known* for sure at the time. Hell, as far as I can tell it’s still not known now, although I agree it seems likely. There were reports of a third person with explosives on them. There was concern about other bombs in public places that might hurt other people- lots of other people. I’ve been following the case pretty closely and even *now* there’s confusion about the events.

    I mean, look, I get it. I’m not a ‘rah rah yay police’ person. Maybe I’m just emotional because my family is there, and I spent all yesterday frantically updating Metafilter. I can understand the concern, I’m not saying you shouldn’t question the actions, but this… this sad headshaking that I see from you and other people- ‘oh, I *understand* why people would act like cowering rabbits, I’m just sad that-‘ what? That there weren’t mass protests? That people were cooperating with the police to help catch someone that everyone in the city wanted caught? What should they have done? What would be “the best possible reaction” to this situation?

  • Lori

    My issue isn’t really with people cooperating with the police. My issue is with what the police asked people to do and what the long term consequences of may be of basically drawing a map for how violent people can get everyone to dance to their tune.

    And that’s all I’m going to say about this.

  • Tamerlin was apparently an amazing boxer. In the globe the guy at the gym said “He was the best boxer in Boston. He smoked the professionals”. There are a lot of boxers in Boston.

  • Tapetum

    Such a practical response. So if these two brothers turn out to have been front-men for someone else, we should just forget about finding out in favor of the immediate revenge-porn?

  • Tom

    This is maybe going to seem a little crass – but even over here in the UK it’s all anyone is talking about… 3 people dying thousands of miles away – meanwhile bombs in the (much closer) middle east (some of them American no doubt) have killed tens, possibly hundreds of people since the marathon.

    I understand it must be horrible for local people – but having grown up with the reality of IRA bombs I can’t help but think the press/public reaction has been a little bit disproportionate.

    The words ‘grief porn’ come to mind.

    Apologies to Bostonians – this is not aimed at you, obviously the events are VERY relevant to you guys at the moment.

  • FWIW, and speaking as a Bostonian currently stuck in New Jersey and forced to watch TV morning shows over breakfast, I agree about “grief porn.” No surprise; it’s routine. And at the same time we contrive to make foreign and enemy deaths seem less real.

  • It seems to me the police would want MORE eyes looking for this guy. That tends to be how fugitives are caught, not by intensive manhunts enacted by police, but by engaged citizens notifying police.

  • True in general. Less true when what you want is to capture the suspect, not have the suspect’s badly beaten corpse handed over to you by a group of engaged citizens who all agree that it was totes self defense.

  • That statement is an indictment of the culture of fear the Boston lockdown perpetuated, not abated.

  • Being on the street keeping your eyes peeled for the suspect, which is how he was eventually caught.

  • That’s at least consistent; thanks for answering.

  • I do want to clarify that I thought the question was about what the police should do. I thought about coming back and editing my answer, but the discussion was so old, I said never mind!

    As far as what the individual should do, that’s up to the individual. My issue is with the police request, not with the people complying.

  • Of course, the other side of the coin of extremes is police going door to door conducting unlawful property searches at gunpoint, which is apparently exactly what we had, if http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2LrbsUVSVl8 is to go by.

  • Gotcha. I am far more supportive of “The police ought not have requested this” than “Citizens ought have responded to the request by going out on the street with their eyes peeled.” Thanks for clarifying.

  • Unless there’s reports of people being prosecuted for things unrelated to the manhunt that the police found while searching, “unlawful property searches” don’t enter into it.

  • The reason we can’t pass sensible gun control in this country is because a sizeable percentage of people really truly deep down are just burning for the day when they can use their beloved gun to become a Real American Hero Who Took Down The Perp Single-Handed. Given that there were reports of angry people randomly attacking people who looked a bit muslimy in the time between the bombing and the suspects being publically identified, do you really think that it’s “silly”, or did the lockdown go back in time and induce a culture of fear in the days before it was enacted?

  • Exigent circumstances allow police to search the home of a suspect if they think said suspect is trying to escape into it (the example I saw was if a DUI suspect runs home and slams the door shut, the police can lawfully break it down and search the home to find and arrest them), but I don’t know if that can be stretched as far as going door to door, entering by force and detaining people (not arresting, but certainly treating them rough, with threats of lethal force) based on “they are HERE and the suspect MIGHT BE HERE therefore they may be aiding the suspect.” Certainly not everyone was complying as voluntarily as they’ve been made out to be. :p

  • No, the lockdown did not cause the hysteria, but I refuse to accept that it’s the solution.