BOSTON — A federal grand jury here issued a 30-count indictment on June 27 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 police officer, from whom he and his brother, Tamerlan, tried to steal a firearm, the 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 accidentally 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. The county indictment covers a carjacking, chase and shootout that occurred in the Boston suburbs beginning the night of April 18; the federal indictment, which runs 74 pages, covers events that led up to the bombings on April 15 as well as the bombings and the subsequent chase and shootout.
District Attorney Marian T. Ryan of Middlesex County said at an afternoon news conference that no date had been set for Tsarnaev to appear in court on the county charges and that any trial would not run concurrently with a federal trial.
Carmen J. 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 gives the most detailed narrative so far of the brothers’ alleged actions. On the night of the chase, it said, they were armed with five improvised explosive devices, a Ruger P95 semiautomatic handgun, ammunition, a machete and a hunting knife. It is not clear which items the brothers still had in their possession as the police closed in.
The indictment also 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 their motives, saying the bombings were “perhaps a protest against what they viewed as actions by the United States in foreign countries.”
The federal indictment said that 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 who were trying to apprehend them, it said, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was tackled to the ground by three police officers.
At that point, the indictment said, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, driving a Mercedes SUV that they had carjacked, drove directly at three police officers who were trying to drag Tamerlan to safety. He barely missed one of the officers 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 tried to speed away, seriously injuring him. Tsarnaev then abandoned the vehicle, smashed both of his cellphones and hid in the boat. The indictment listed books and materials that Tsarnaev downloaded that might have influenced his beliefs and taught him how to assemble the bombs. The authorities said that he had downloaded a digital copy of a book that had a foreword written by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Qaida leader whom the United States killed in a 2011 drone strike. The book “directs Muslims not to give their allegiance to governments that invade Muslim lands,” the authorities said.
Tsarnaev also downloaded a publication that called for Muslims to use violence “to terrorize the perceived enemies of Islam, among other things.”
The indictments came as Bostonians were obsessed with two other criminal cases. They were announced in the federal courthouse where James “Whitey” Bulger, a notorious Boston crime figure, was on trial for his role in 19 murders and on a day when Aaron Hernandez, a former New England Patriots tight end, was charged with murdering a friend.