An FBI special agent shot and killed a man in Orlando, Florida, early on Wednesday morning, just hours after he was interrogated about the Boston Marathon bombings. The man, who was identified as 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev, was reportedly an acquaintance of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who he met through the world of mixed martial arts. Like Tsarnaev, he was a Chechen-born Muslim, but only met Tsarnaev after moving to the United States. Todashev was shot shortly after midnight at an apartment complex about 10 miles from Walt Disney World, after FBI agents and other law enforcmenet reportedly returned for a final interview.
The FBI originally said only that an agent "encountered the suspect while conducting official duties. The suspect is deceased," but did not offer any other details. They have since released a further statement that says that suspect became "violent" during questioning, the agent shot him in self defense.
Khusn Taramiv, a friend of Todashev, told WESH-TV that they were both interviewed by the FBI for three hours on Tuesday. The men were asked what they knew about Tsarnaev and were also asked about their political views and their feelings about the attacks on Boston. Taramiv also claims that Todashev thought that he was being "set up" and expressed concerns that something bad was going to happen to them. Taramiv says they had both been followed by the FBI on more than one occasion since the Boston terrorist attack. In this interview (via WFTV), Taramiv says his friend was first contacted by them the day after the Boston suspects were first identified in the media.
Todashev had recently been arrested for aggravated assault (leading to the mugshot above), but his friend says he was just involved in a fight after being attacked in a parking lot and was simply defending himself. Taramiv says his friend has been planning to head home to Chechnya to visit relatives, via New York City, but had canceled the trip due to "pushing" by the FBI who wanted him to stay in the U.S. for further questioning. Other news reports say the midnight interview was prompted by police learning that Todashev had canceled his trip.
The suspect's friend says they are both Muslim, but not radical, and says Todashev does not own a gun. Jon Williams of the BBC reported that the FBI agent conducting the interview shot Todashev, because he felt threatened.
UPDATE 11:00 a.m.: The FBI in Boston released the following statement about the shooting. It says that the suspect initiated a "violent confrontation" before he was shot, but doesn't say if he was armed or not.
The FBI is currently reviewing a shooting incident involving an FBI special agent. Based on preliminary information, the incident occurred in Orlando, Florida during the early morning hours of May 22, 2013. The agent, 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. During the confrontation, the individual was killed and the agent sustained non-life threatening injuries. As this incident is under review, we have no further details at this time.
UPDATE 11:39 a.m.: A new report by NBC News gives the entire story a whole new spin. According their sources, Todashev "confessed" to the FBI that he was involved in the unsolved triple-murder case that authorities have been trying to tie to Tamerlan Tsarnaev. He also reportedly attacked the FBI agent with a knife, leading to the use of lethal force. (The victims in the 2011 murder case all had their throats cut.) Todashev was reportedly not considered a suspect in the Marathon bombing, however. Obviously, the FBI is withholding a lot of information at the moment and they will hopefully clear up some of the confusion soon, but this case just become a lot more complicated.
UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Multiple sources tell NBC News that Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Ibragim Todashev are responsible for the gruesome triple homicide in Waltham, Massachusetts, described earlier in this post:
JUST IN: Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev and man killed by FBI in Orlando responsible for 2011 triple homicide, sources say— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 22, 2013
MORE: Tsarnaev and Ibragim Todashev murdered three people in drug rip-off in Waltham, Mass. to avoid being identified, sources say— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 22, 2013
UPDATE 6:09 p.m.: The Associated Press now reports that what happened in the moments before Todashev was shot is "no longer clear." Earlier reports that he charged agents with a knife may be incorrect.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.